I think I have to finally admit that Christmas is actually happening. Soon. Like, in a few days. Pretty soon I’ll be putting the out of office email reply on and heading down to Devon. It’s taken me a while to get in the festive spirit this year. Especially since the weather has been so warm (apparently there were colder days in May than in December – my current favourite weather anecdote). But after consuming more mulled wine than was probably good for me and listening to Annie Lennox’s rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on repeat, I’ve finally got on board with the whole thing.
I usually make something edible as Christmas gifts. Last year it was honeycomb, and the year before that, florentines. Both of which featured relatively stressful processes involving sugar thermometers. Last year, I almost reached breaking point when making the honeycomb, covered in bits of glue-like caramel frantically trying to unstick the stubborn buggers from each other. So this year, I opted for something simple. I melted chocolate, spread it out on a tray and and covered it in stuff. Easy.
Makes 2 baking trays (enough for about 8 people)
100g dried pears (or another dried fruit, cranberries would work well)
50g crystallised ginger
100g whole hazelnuts
800g dark chocolate
First, line the trays with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C and toast the hazlenuts for 5 minutes until the skins start to crack. Rub off the skins with a tea towel, and roughly chop. Chop the pears into strips and he crystallised ginger into small cubes. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Pour the chocolate out onto the baking trays, making sure it’s about ½ cm thick. Leave to cool slightly, then scatter over the pears, ginger and hazelnuts. Leave to set in the fridge for at least an hour, then break into shards.
We also made several other versions with different toppings: candied peel and cherry, rose petal and almond, and mulled wine infused fruit.