Christmas Hampers Take Two


Last year I made hampers of home-baked treats for my close family for Christmas. It was easier than trying to buy individual gifts for people which, when you have a toddler in tow everywhere you go shopping, is hard work! This year I had a lot less time on my hands, so the hampers had to be smaller, but I still wanted to try doing them again.

This year I managed to be a lot more frugal. I found two beautiful wicker baskets in a charity shop for just £1 each, and I got job lots of fabric wrapping, ribbon, celophane bags and hamper stuffing from eBay. The recipes I chose were considerably less frugal, but I wanted them to be indulgent and truly ‘adult’ treats.

Trying to get the baking done this year was very difficult indeed. It required a couple of weeks of planning. Nookie generally doesn’t go to sleep until around 11pm, and is up again by 8am, so I had a tiny window each evening in which to do my baking. The recipes I had chose had to be reasonably quick to make, though in the end I had a bit of a nightmare with one of the recipes…

First I made espresso and dark chocolate fudge. (YUM!) I’ve made fudge a few times now so I know what I’m doing, but it’s still a fairly easy thing to mess up… especially when you’re making it in a jam-making pan (which is what you should use), rather than a small saucepan (which is what I usually use). The fudge cooked within ten minutes so I almost overcooked it, but luckily I happened to check it early (as I’m a bit anal about things like that) so it turned out perfectly. It was really nice! I might make some for us at some point.

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The next evening I made Greek shortbread, which is basically shortbread with brandy in it. Inevitably when you’re trying recipes for the first time you come across some bummers. This was one of them. It was a bit plain and stodgy, with no where near enough brandy in it. In despair Hedgehog and I brainstormed some ways we could jazz it up a bit, and I did consider binning it and making something else (which I didn’t really have time for). Then we had the bright idea to make up some buttercream and shove a load of brandy in it, then sandwich the shortbreads together with it. YUM! Truly alcoholic deliciousness.

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Finally I made amaretto truffles. Mmmmm. I love amaretto. Nookie helped me… these had to be made and then set, then rolled and then set, and then coated in white chocolate and set. So I had to start in the afternoon and was up until the early hours finishing them. I wasn’t totally happy with the finished result. The truffles melted into the white chcolate as I coated them, so they didn’t look very neat. But they still tasted good.

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Then I packaged them all up, wrapped them up, and off you go. A lovely home-made with love gift that I hope my family enjoyed eating as much as I enjoyed making.

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What homemade presents did you make this year?

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