Christmas Chocolate Stars

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

I thought between posting my gift guides I’d throw in a quick and easy DIY to gift to anyone from a host to a teacher this festive season. Although it is a small gesture, making something yourself like these chocolate stars, can mean so much to the recipient. It would also be the perfect addition to your Christmas table, serve as a great accompaniment to coffee and compliment many a dessert. So really this is an all-rounder! As an added bonus, it is really simple and affordable to make! All you need is chocolate, your favourite toppings (added bonus if they’re in festive shades) and a silicone ice or chocolate tray.

DIY Chocolate stars ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 200g milk or dark chocolate
  • 40g pistachios, chopped
  • 40g cranberries, chopped
  • Spray and Cook
  • Gold dust

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

Method:

  1. Break up the chocolate in a microwavable bowl and put to the side.
  2. Chop up the pistachios and cranberries and keep at the ready.
  3. Give a festive ice or chocolate silicone tray a light spray with Spray and Cook. If you are working with an ice tray, see whether you need to fill the whole shape or whether filling it half-way would be better. My stars turned out quite thick and it might have been better to only fill the shapes halfway.
  4. Take the bowl of chocolate and melt it in the microwave. I usually put it in for 30 seconds at a time at full power. I take care to stir it in between microwaving it and often stop it shortly before everything is completely melted, knowing the final small lumps will melt as I stir. Each microwave is different and your melting times might be different to mine. I know this isn’t conventional or the best method, but it is by far the most convenient! I always microwave my chocolate to melt it (a double-cooker is the correct tool) and rarely use bakers chocolate, but know that if you use regular milk chocolate it will only melt once. So you have to work quick, before it sets.
  5. Fill your tray with chocolate, stopping two milimeters before you get to the top.
  6. Sprinkle the tray with the nuts and cranberries and lightly press each star to ensure that the toppings will set in the chocolate.
  7. Leave the chocolate to fully set.
  8. Once it is set, turn out the stars and dust the top of each chocolate with gold dust.
  9. Store in a cool spot in an air-tight container.

 

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Panforte Recipe

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Panforte meaning ‘strong bread’  is a dense, fruity loaf also known as Siena cake. The traditional spices and festive candied fruit makes it a great non-alcoholic alternative to Christmas Cake, even though it can be enjoyed year long. It is perfect to serve with coffee or dessert wine.

Ingredients:

  • 110g almonds (raw and unsalted)
  • 60g macadamia nuts  (raw and unsalted)
  • 30g brazil nuts (raw and unsalted)
  • 20g pecan nuts (raw and unsalted)
  • 125g glazed cherries, chopped
  • 100g candied pineapple, chopped
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t grated nutmeg
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 150 g sugar
  • 4 tbs honey
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • icing sugar, for dusting

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Method:

  1. Prepare a square 20cm x 20cm dish by lining it with baking paper and spraying it with spray and cook. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Toast all the nuts under a hot grill, turning them so they brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn as this makes them bitter.
  3. Sift together all the spices and flour and mix in the nuts, zest and candied fruit in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Melt the sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and cook the syrup until it reaches 120°C on a sugar thermometer, or a little of it dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when moulded between your fingers.
  5. Pour the hot syrup into the nut mixture and mix fast before it begins to stiffen too much.
  6. Pour it into the prepared dish, smooth the surface and bake for 35 min. Time this carefully as you won’t be able to observe any change in the cake once its ready to be removed.
  7. Cool slightly in the tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice while hot.
  8. Dust the top heavily with icing sugar.

Store in a airtight container in a cool place and it will last for weeks.

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