I froze my herbs. Ate my leftovers. Packed the last of these Christmas treats to snack on on the plane. Threw myself out the door. And that’s the way 2016 – in London – came to a close.
Which fittingly, is how the entire year seems to have gone by.
Amidst the manic last 6 weeks, I somehow still managed to pull together a few last minute edible xmas gifts, entirely from pantry, fridge and leftovers finds. So this won’t be a long post, but just in case any of you have found yourself looking for the life-pause button and searching for the hours in your day evaporating into thin air, may these come to the rescue.
Around Christmas time, mum always, always, has about 5 packs of milanais ('mee-la-neh'), ie. Swiss buttery Christmas biscuits (to be rolled and baked, or eaten raw at your own risk). They’re a little plain for me, so I couldn’t help but sandwich them with a healthy dollop of Clementine-Satsuma-Mandarin (you get the idea, whatever small orange citrus fruit is over-ripening on hand) Marmalade. Made from surplus fruit for a popup. Now the ultimate filling for any Christmas biscuits.
And coincidentally, the perfect accompaniment to my Juice-Pulp-Granola Dust Bark. You know that granola dust you find at the bottom of the bag? Well, firstly if you even thought of tossing it I might slap you. Secondly, don’t toss it and sprinkle it on everything – oatmeal, nut-butter-jam toast, pancakes – and like, say, this thin dark chocolate bark.
You may notice a slight bloom on mine. Please note, blooming your chocolate is optional-slash-not-advised-but-can-be-justified-as-'an aesthetic'-if-need-be... And happened for various reasons only 3am kitchen escapades can answer to (along with perhaps a little laziness). Everyone’s got a million and one variations on chocolate temperatures for tempering – here are a couple of trusted sources to get you started courtesy of The Kitchn (for the non-technical) and David Lebovitz (or the more technically inclined).
I did say I would keep this short and somehow I’ve managed to fill an entire post. So on that note, I hope you and yours enjoy these seriously last minute Christmas hacks for the most DELICIOUS giftable bestovers.
Merry Christmas :)
Pulp Granola-Dust Bark
nibs etc. recipe. Makes 2-4 portions, depending on how generous you are feeling.
Temper 200g quality dark chocolate (70% or above). Once melted and ready for use, spread as thinly as possible – 1-2mm – across a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of your favourite granola-dust/crumbs. Allow to cool completely before snapping and packaging your portions.
Small-Orange-Citrus Marmalade Sandwich Biscuits
Marmalade recipe adapted from 100 Mile Table. Makes about 3 cups.
6-7 Small Orange Citrus (clementine, satsuma, mandarin etc.)
2 Juiced Lemons – cut off your rinds to candy for another bestover treat!
Place WHOLE fruit – skin and all – into a pot large enough to hold them and be just covered with water. Add lemon juice to water and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until the fruit is tender to the fork-touch, and just beginning to break apart. If water level gets to be 1-2 cm, then simply topup until fruit is just covered again. For me this took about an hour with one top up of water.
With a slotted spoon, remove from water – SAVE FOR LATER - and place into a bowl in order to carefully – hot – remove any green stems, and if you feel so inclined, squash fruit with fork in order to remove seeds. I skipped that particular step and was just fine.
Pulse in a blender until desired consistency is reached – doesn’t have to be sooth as, we like skin-bits in marmalade.
Pour puree back into the water, and then weigh the entire contents of your pot – puree + water – and add ¾ of that same weight in sugar (100 Mile Table adds the same weight in sugar, but I didn’t feel the need to).
Bring the contents of the bowl back to a boil for 20 or so minutes (or an aggressive simmer), while stirring to ensure sugar is dissolved and nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The marmalade is ready when you set a teaspoon filled with it on a plate to rest for a minute or so, before tipping it on its side – the contents should drip in a solid sheet.
Pour into sterilized jars and seal. After about 3-5 minutes, tip jars upside down to seal completely.
xmas sandwich biscuits
1 Packet store-bought (I know...but when it's tradition, sometimes...homemade if you have on hand!) Butter Biscuit Dough of choice.
Prepare the filling: dilute about 1/4 cup of marmalade with 3-6 tbsp water - until liquid and spreadable but not runny.
Bake as per packet instructions - generally about 180*C/350F for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and immediately dollop jam on base biscuits - using a spoon, make sure to nudge marmalade to all corners of the cookie - before quickly sandwiching with a biscuit on top. Allow to cool like this completely, on a wire rack, before consuming, so the marmalade can set and become chewy, just how we like it.
Bake into pop tarts and pastries, thinly coat fruit tart bottoms, brush cakes, dollop into brownie trays.
Slather on all things: bread, pastries, cake, accompany parmesan chunks, maybe even a lamb chop.
Try using less sugar (half the weight as opposed to ¾ or same weight).
Infuse spices such as cinnamon, star anise, cardamom to water when boiling to infuse.