Christmas Sweets

Tomorrow is 4th of Advent and christmas is just around the corner. I, like many others, think baking and making sweets is one of the best ways to get into christmas mode. The smell from warm chocolate and oranges spreading in your home is unbeatable. I also think it’s very therapeutic to create things in the kitchen! Just make sure you have some time, otherwise it will only cause you stress and that’s the opposite effect of what you want. Today I will share two recipes that are very easy, yummy and if you wrap them up they also make perfect gifts for Christmas!

The first recipe is what we in my family call a “christmas loaf”, it is sort of like a boozy long mozartkugeln that you slice into bitesize portions. I’ve made this for my father every christmas since I was a child, hence how easy it is! From the leftover ingrediens I also created some balls, so it is possible to only do that if you prefer.

The second recipe is a dreamy chocolate and orange toffee topped with sea salt. It is so rich in flavour, and a bit chewy but still very buttery in texture. I have to appologize for the few and not so great pictures today, I’m in Sweden and the lack of sunlight makes it tricky to take decents pictures…

Christmas marzipan loaf & balls (this should make 2 small loafs and a couple of balls)
What you need:

200 g marzipan, or almond paste. It should be 50/50 sugar and almonds.
125 g nougat
100 g dark chocolate
2 tablespoons of varied dried fruit cut into small pieces (I used apricots, cranberries, dates and raisins)
a heatlhy splash of your favourite booze (I used whisky)

How to do it:

Start with cutting the fruits except the raisins to small pieces and put in a small bowl, cover them with alcoholic beverage and let them soak overnight or for a couple of hours. When the fruits are soaked you can start rolling the marzipan. The easiest way is if you warm it up in your hands for a bit, and then place it on some plastic foil and roll on that. Make it just a bit thinner than 1cm. It should be circa 20 cm wide and 10 long. Cut the nougat slightly shorter than the longest side of the marzipan, and about 1cm high and wide. Spread the fruit pieces evenly on top and on the sides of the nougat.

Roll it together to create an even and smooth loaf. Wrap it tightly in plastic foil and let it sit in the fridge for a moment. You can melt the chocolate meanwhile. I normally chop all of it and let half melt it in a bowl over a Bain-marie, when that is done I remove the bowl from the water and add the rest of the chocolate. This should temper the chocolate a bit and help it from getting gray and dull. Take your loaf out and brush it with chocolate! Once one side is done and dry you turn it and brush the next. The whole thing should be covered. Use the smoothest side as the top and brush some extra layers there, you can also try to create some patterns in the chocolate. I also melted some leftover nougat to decorate with, it says “God Jul” on the loaf which means “Merry Christmas” in Swedish.

Chocolate and orange toffee with sea salt

What you need:
100g butter
4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
200 ml cream
350 ml sugar
100 ml golden suryp
zest from 1 orange

How to do it:

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the other ingredients.
Boil the toffee until it is 125° or test if it’s done with the ball test (see below). It normally takes at least 10 minutes, but keep your eye on the toffee!! The bubbles should be quite slow, that’s how you know it thickens. Pour the toffee in a square cake mould covered (ca 20×40 cm big) in parchment paper. Let it cool, and then set for at least 3 hours or over night in the frigde.Take it out of the fridge and place the toffee block on a cutting board. Let it be out for about an hour. Sprinkle the whole thing with some sea salt. Then cut it into bite size pieces. Wrap them up!

The ball test: Pour a couple of drops of the batter in a glass of ice cold water, roll it into a ball. The ball should be very firm, almost hard when the toffee is done.