Play Hard

Homemade foodie treats you can give as gifts

(or keep for yourself)...

Written by High Life North
Published 22.12.2020

Gingerbread Tiffin

My Gingerbread Tiffin has all of the flavours and colours of Christmas: flecks of green pistachio, ruby red cranberries, shards of golden honeycomb and ginger biscuit. This is a great one to make with kids as there’s no cooking required.

Makes approx. 16 slices:

300g ginger biscuits

200g milk chocolate

200g 70% dark chocolate

100g unsalted butter

150g crunchie bars (this is about 6 bars)

45g cranberries

60g shelled pistachios

  1. Begin by crushing the biscuits. The best way to do this is to put them into a zip lock bag and bash them with a rolling pin. You want to leave some nice chunks of biscuit in there.
  2. Melt 150g of milk chocolate, 125g dark chocolate and 100g butter in a small bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally
  3. Whilst you wait for the buttery chocolate to melt, roughly chop the pistachios and 100g (4 bars) of the crunchies. 
  4. Add 40g of the chopped pistachios to a bowl, along with the crushed biscuits, the chopped crunchies and the cranberries.
  5. Line a 20cm square or rectangular high sided dish with baking paper.
  6. Now the chocolate and butter is melted, stir to emulsify and pour it over the dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly, making sure every ounce of biscuits crumb, crunchie and cranberry is slick with chocolate.  
  7. Spoon the thick chocolate batter into the lined tray and use a spoon to press it flat, making sure you get right into the corners. 
  8. In the same bowl that you used to melt the chocolate earlier, add the remaining 50g milk chocolate and 75g dark chocolate. Melt over the barely simmering water then pour over the surface of the tiffin to level it. Use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate evenly and fill in any gaps.
  9. Whilst the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle over the remaining chopped pistachios and use your fingers to crumble over the remaining 50g crunchie bar. 
  10. Pop the whole thing in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. 
  11. To serve, use a large sharp knife to cut the tiffin into generous squares. It will keep for about a week in an airtight tin.

Chai Fudge

There’s something almost nostalgic about fudge at Christmas. Perhaps it’s because it makes me think about the garish orange wrapper of the bar of fudge that came in my selection box every year. This fudge is a little bit more elegant than that but just as delicious with the subtle spice of chai for a really wintery taste. The secret to this recipe is in the beating at the end. Don’t be tempted to skimp on this, even if your arm starts to ache!

Makes approx. 30 squares:

150ml whole milk

3 chai tea bags

1x397g tin condensed milk

115g unsalted butter

450g light brown sugar

  1. Begin by infusing the milk with the chai flavour. Pour the milk into a small pan with the tea bags. Bring the milk to the boil, allow it to bubble for 1 minute then turn off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, line a 20cm tray with baking paper. 
  3. Squeeze the tea bags really thoroughly to get every last drop of flavour then discard. 
  4. Place the condensed milk, infused milk, sugar and butter into a large, sturdy pan and place over a medium low heat.
  5. Stir regularly to encourage the sugar to melt.
  6. Once the mixture seems to have come together and no longer looks grainy from the sugar, increase the heat. Continue stirring occasionally to ensure it’s not sticking. 
  7. Bring the mixture up to the boil, still stirring occasionally, enjoying the sound it makes as you stir. Let the mixture boil and bubble away fiercely for about 10 minutes, or until the temperature reaches about 115c. 
  8. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, place a glass of very cold iced water near the hob and drop a teaspoon of the fudge into the water. After a few seconds, fish out the fudge. It shouldn’t stick to your hands or the glass but should feel kind of like play-dough. Once this has happened, turn off the heat.
  9. Now you need to beat it. Using a whisk, vigorously and continuously beat the fudge until it is smooth and starts to look thick and glossy. Be very careful as the fudge will be VERY hot. 
  10. Beat, beat, beat the fudge for about 5 minutes until it’s so thick and stiff it’s really difficult to work with. 
  11. Spoon the fudge into the prepared baking tray and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out. 
  12. Leave the fudge somewhere cool to set for at least 2 hours before slicing into chunks. 
  13. Fudge will keep for 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Salted Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

We all know someone who deserves a bit of indulgence at Christmas and these chocolate truffles are the perfect gift for them. Decadent, elegant and just five ingredients. 

Makes 16 small truffles:

150g 70% dark chocolate

65g caster sugar

10g unsalted butter

80ml double cream, plus 40ml double cream 

Pinch flaky sea salt 

80g finely chopped salted peanuts

  1. Begin by measuring out all of the ingredients you will need. 
  2. Finely chop the dark chocolate and place it in a  large heatproof bowl. 
  3. Now, make a caramel. Place the caster sugar in an even layer in a heavy-bottomed pan. Over a medium heat, gently melt the sugar. You will begin to see the sides turn clear. Do not stir, simply wait for the sugar to melt all the way around the edge, shake the pan slightly to help evenly distribute the sugar. 
  4. Once you can clearly see a thick ring of melted sugar around the outside, stir gently to help the rest of the sugar melt. 
  5. Continue to cook the caramel until it turns a rich honey colour, then pop the butter in, stirring rapidly to melt and emulsify it. Be careful as it’ll spit. 
  6. Let the caramel bubble for a minute then carefully pour in 80ml double cream, stirring quickly again to form a caramel sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the pinch of salt. Leave it to stand off the heat for 2 minutes.
  7. Very cautiously (remember hot sugar can be dangerous) pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate. Stir the chocolate and caramel together until the chocolate melts, transforming into a smooth, glossy ganache. Stir in the remaining 40ml cream. 
  8. Transfer the chocolate ganache to a shallow container and pop it in the fridge to set for 4 hours.
  9. Once chilled, the chocolate will set. To shape the truffles, take a tsp measuring spoon and scoop out a ball of ganache. Quickly roll the mixture between the palms of your hands before rolling it into the finely chopped salty peanuts. The mixture will be very soft and this stage can be rather messy. Work quickly and in a cool part of the kitchen. If the ganache gets too soft, pop it back in the fridge then try again after about 30 minutes. 
  10. The rolled truffles will keep for 10 days in the fridge but are best eaten at room temperature. 
Other stories by High Life North
24.07.2021

Get to know Jesmond Dene House: The iconic North East venue for HLN’s first fashion shoot

High Life North
21.07.2021

Sick of meal deals? Here are 19 independent lunch spots that are just round the corner from the office

High Life North
21.07.2021

Planning your post-Freedom Day night out? Here are 15 clubs and bars in Newcastle that are fully open this weekend

High Life North
17.07.2021

Live music is back – Here are 13 gigs happening this week

High Life North
16.07.2021

4 North East businesses guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth…

High Life North
14.07.2021

10 perfect North East picnic spots…

High Life North