The sugar hit

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!

Peppermint fudgefudge

Ingredients

• 227g butter
• 397g (1 tin) condensed milk
• 175ml milk
• 2 tbsp golden syrup
• 800g granulated sugar
• 2 tsp vanilla
• Few drops peppermint oil

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients, apart from the vanilla and peppermint into a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil stirring constantly.
  2. 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).
  3. Carefully remove from the heat and add vanilla and peppermint.
  4. Using an electric whisk, beat for 5 mins until stiff peaks form.
  5. Place in a greased tin and flatten as much as possible.
  6. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
  7. Remove from the pan and place onto a board and cut into squares.
  8. Store in an air-tight container and place in the fridge during the hotter months and at room temperature during winter.

Balsamic candied pecanspecans

Ingredients

• 1 cup pecans
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp coarse sea salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Place pecans on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  3. Bake for 10 mins until the nuts are fragrant.
  4. In the meantime, melt the sugar in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  5. Boil until frothy and thick (approx 2 mins).
  6. Add the pecans and cook for another 3 mins.
  7. Pour onto a baking tray lined with parchment and spread so that the nuts are not on top of each other.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Allow to cool completely before breaking into bite sized pieces.

Chilli chocolate trufflesCHILLI-TRUFFLES-3-EDITED

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

Toppings

  • Cocoa powder
  • Toasted almonds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Dark chocolate, melted
  • White chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Chop the chocolate and place in a large bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. Remove from the heat and tip the chocolate into the cream.
  4. Stir the mixture until smooth.
  5. Add the chilli and orange zest and mix well. Alternatively add bourbon, rum soaked raisins, Grand Manier or coconut.
  6. Place the fridge for 1 hour until the truffle mixture hardens.
  7. Prepare the toppings in separate bowls. You can use one of the toppings or a mixture.
  8. Rub a little flavourless oil into you hands and roll 1 tsp of truffle mixture into a ball.
  9. Roll in one of the various toppings.
  10. Place on greaseproof paper.
  11. Repeat until the truffle mixture is finished.
  12. Place in the fridge for 30 mins or until ready to serve.
  13. Remove from the fridge 30 mins before serving.

Peanut brittlebrittle

Ingredients

• 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

Method

  1. In a small bowl combine peanuts, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and set aside.
  2. Brush the inside of saucepan with vegetable oil.
  3. Add the sugar and water and cook on high heat until
  4. Turn down the heat and cook until the sugar turns golden in colour (150°C on a candy thermometer).
  5. Stir in the peanut mixture. This will reduce the temperature significantly so work quickly.
  6. 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.
  7. Allow to become completely cold and break into bite-sized pieces.

Rachel Zammit Cutajar