10 August 2009

Recipes for Peppermint Creams and Chocolate Strawberries

Recipes for Peppermint Creams and Chocolate Strawberries

It’s been a weekend of baking and cooking for Jay’s birthday.  He had some specific requests for things plus we needed to get the sausages and baps for the proper “hot dogs”, ie not with boil in the bag frankfurters but real sausages and decent bread.  I know I should have made the sausages but I seemed to be baking for Britain in any case. 

There were also the games to prepare for; we went for very traditional games: egg and spoon, a sack race, three legged races, beanbag on the head race, a bucket and sponge race, followed by rounders after birthday tea.  We all love the good, old fashioned traditional games.  They are great fun and are a wonderful leveller which means that no particular person gets an advantage because of their height or age.  I hate those sports days where the tallest and/or most developed in a year wins all the prizes purely out of developmental reasons rather than necessarily ability, or maybe it’s simply that I never won and so am scarred with jealously!

Birthday cakeI feel it is really important to home bake as much as possible at a birthday and keep the artificial out as much as possible.  Yes, you’ve got to have the ubiquitous crisps and perhaps the odd packet of sweets, but you must under all circumstances bake your own cake.  It shows your love and appreciation of the people involved through giving up some time and putting that love into a gift of food; it’s like a devotional offering to show that you are so happy that someone has grown up and developed one more year in their journey of life and are ready to tackle the next year.  It says sorry for those times that you have been cross and off-hand with them during the year, and says that you will try harder to give more support during the next year.

What our children really, really love are the home-made sweets.  This is something people don’t perhaps make enough of, but they can be just so simple.  And they taste remarkably different from shop-bought junk.  This year I made peppermint creams, chocolate coated strawberries (part of your 5 a day, so that’s pretty cool), vanilla fudge and coconut ice.  I didn’t make marshmallows but have in the past, although they do have a very different texture to the shop bought, highly coloured things. 

Here are the really quick recipes for some of these:

Peppermint creams

450g    Icing sugar, sieved

125ml   Sweetened condensed milk (traditionally this would be egg whites but this seems safer nowadays)

Few drops of peppermint essence/extract

150g    Plain dark chocolate (I use Green & Black’s Cooking Chocolate)

  1. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl and add the condensed milk.  Mix together.  Add a few drops of peppermint extract and knead into a smooth even mixture.  Check the flavouring and add more if needed.
  2. Lightly dust a work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out to 5mm in thickness.  Cut into rounds and leave to dry on a piece of baking paper.  I use a small shot glass as this is a perfect 2.5cm diameter.
  3. A few hours later, melt the chocolate, then dip each sweet into the melted chocolate until about half covered and leave to set on baking paper.

Chocolate strawberries

20+      Strawberries, leaving on the stalk

50g      Plain chocolate

  1. Melt the chocolate, then dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate until covered and leave to set on baking paper.
  2. Do this simultaneously with the peppermint creams as it saves time and effort.