Sugar has been getting a bad rap lately. It is getting the blame for all the woes of world and yet we love it and keep coming back for more like we would a bad boyfriend. While eating plenty of veggies and getting lots of exercise we can make room for a little bit of sugar, and the ones you make at home are always better than the ones you buy in the shops – both from a health perspective and from a flavour one. Try these little sweet treats and have friends knocking at your door at all hours of day – till they’re finished at least!
• 227g butter
• 397g (1 tin) condensed milk
• 175ml milk
• 2 tbsp golden syrup
• 800g granulated sugar
• 2 tsp vanilla
• Few drops peppermint oil
- Put all the ingredients, apart from the vanilla and peppermint into a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil stirring constantly.
- Using a candy thermometer, boil until the mixture reaches 115C, stirring all the time, or until the mixture turns golden and when a bit is dropped into iced water it turns solid but still squidgy (the soft ball stage).
- Carefully remove from the heat and add vanilla and peppermint.
- Using an electric whisk, beat for 5 mins until stiff peaks form.
- Place in a greased tin and flatten as much as possible.
- Place in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
- Remove from the pan and place onto a board and cut into squares.
- Store in an air-tight container and place in the fridge during the hotter months and at room temperature during winter.
Balsamic candied pecans
• 1 cup pecans
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
- Place pecans on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
- Bake for 10 mins until the nuts are fragrant.
- In the meantime, melt the sugar in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
- Boil until frothy and thick (approx 2 mins).
- Add the pecans and cook for another 3 mins.
- Pour onto a baking tray lined with parchment and spread so that the nuts are not on top of each other.
- Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow to cool completely before breaking into bite sized pieces.
Chilli chocolate truffles
Ingredients for the truffle mixture
• 200g good quality chocolate (70% or more cocoa solids)
• 200ml heavy cream
• 50g butter
• 1 tsp chilli (less if you don’t like a kick)
• ½ tsp orange zest
- Cocoa powder
- Toasted almonds
- Coconut flakes
- Dark chocolate, melted
- White chocolate, melted
- Chop the chocolate and place in a large bowl.
- Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts and the cream is at simmering point. Do not allow to boil.
- Remove from the heat and tip the chocolate into the cream.
- Stir the mixture until smooth.
- Add the chilli and orange zest and mix well. Alternatively add bourbon, rum soaked raisins, Grand Manier or coconut.
- Place the fridge for 1 hour until the truffle mixture hardens.
- Prepare the toppings in separate bowls. You can use one of the toppings or a mixture.
- Rub a little flavourless oil into you hands and roll 1 tsp of truffle mixture into a ball.
- Roll in one of the various toppings.
- Place on greaseproof paper.
- Repeat until the truffle mixture is finished.
- Place in the fridge for 30 mins or until ready to serve.
- Remove from the fridge 30 mins before serving.
• 1 ½ cups roasted peanuts
• ½ cinnamon
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• 3 cups sugar
• 1 ½ cups water
• Vegetable oil, to coat saucepan and spatula
- In a small bowl combine peanuts, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and set aside.
- Brush the inside of saucepan with vegetable oil.
- Add the sugar and water and cook on high heat until
- Turn down the heat and cook until the sugar turns golden in colour (150°C on a candy thermometer).
- Stir in the peanut mixture. This will reduce the temperature significantly so work quickly.
- Spread the mixture on a greased baking sheet lined with baking paper and press down with the spatula to form a single layer of peanuts.
- Allow to become completely cold and break into bite-sized pieces.