If you're after something more challenging than cupcakes, whip out that vintage apron of yours, and try these classy dessert recipes.
They may look daunting, but they're extremely easy to make and and make amazing gifts.
Wine Gums (20-30 servings)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes (plus 1 hour for setting)
225ml (8fl oz) water
20g (3/4oz) powdered gelatine
250g (9oz) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp citric acid
6–10 drops of food colouring (you’ll need 3–5 drops per colour – try yellow, orange, pink, green or black)
1 tsp flavouring (you’ll need 1/2 tsp per flavour – try lemon, orange, strawberry, mint or anise)
nonstick baking spray, for greasing
- Put 125ml (4fl oz) of the water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine.
- In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water with the sugar. Bring to the boil and continue to boil
- until the temperature on a sugar thermometer reads 130.C (266.F), the hardball stage. Take off the heat.
- Whisk in the gelatine mixture until fully dissolved, then stir in the citric acid.
- If you want to make Wine Gums of various flavours and colours, separate the mixture into the required number of different bowls at this stage. With this quantity of the mixture, 2 batches of colours/flavours works well, so use 3–5 drops of each of 2 colours and 1/2 teaspoon of each of 2 flavours. Work quickly as the wine gum mixture will set rapidly.
- Thoroughly mix in the colouring and flavouring, then carefully pour the mixture into silicone sweet moulds in the
- shape and size of your choice, sprayed with nonstick baking spray.
- Leave the sweets to set for 1 hour, then remove them from the moulds and store in an airtight container.
Rum And Raisin Fudge (24 servings)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes, plus 3 hours for setting
50ml (2fl oz) dark rum
100g (31/2oz) raisins, roughly chopped
100g (31/2oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
397g can sweetened condensed milk
125ml (4fl oz) milk
450g (1lb) demerara sugar
- Put the dark rum in a bowl and add the chopped raisins. Set aside to soak.
- Grease a 20cm (8in) square cake tin and line it with nonstick baking paper.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large nonstick saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then remove the sugar crystals that are stuck to the inside of the pan above the bubbling solution.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, stirring constantly, until it reaches 116.C (240.F) – the softball stage.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the temperature of the mixture to drop to 110.C (230.F) before beating it. Beat with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes until the mixture is very thick and almost has the consistency and look of smooth peanut butter. This step is vital for thickening the fudge, so ensure you beat the mixture until it is very thick and stiff.
- Stir in the raisins and the rum, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin and set aside for about 3 hours to cool.
- When the fudge is completely cold, cut it into 24 small squares using a sharp knife.
Rhubard And Custards (80 servings)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 11/2 hours, plus 1–2 hours for setting
450g (1lb) granulated sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp liquid glucose
2 tsp citric acid
1 vanilla pod
3–5 drops of red food colouring
caster sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 100.C/gas mark 1/2 or set up a heat lamp over one end of a silicone mat. Put the granulated sugar, water, cream of tartar and liquid glucose in a saucepan over a medium heat and heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring gently.
- When the mixture comes to the boil, remove the sugar crystals that are stuck to the inside of the pan
- above the bubbling solution. Keep the mixture bubbling vigorously, without stirring, until it reaches 143.C (290.F) – the soft-crack stage. Then take the pan off the heat and stir in the citric acid.
- To make the ‘custard’, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod on to your silicone mat, then pour half the syrup over them. Set the saucepan over a low heat to keep the remaining mixture syrupy.
- Pull the sugar for about 10 minutes until the candy has a glossy, creamy texture. Work quickly, as the sugar will cool quite fast, so there is a short window during which to pull the sugar before it becomes too stiff. When the candy has the desired
- texture, put it into the oven or under the heat lamp until you have worked the ‘rhubarb’.
- To make the ‘rhubarb’, pour the remaining sugar syrup on to the silicone mat. Leave to cool for 10–15 minutes until it is cool enough to pick up. Add the food colouring to the sugar and repeat step 4.
- Take the ‘custard’ from the oven or from under the heat lamp and roll both colours into cylinders roughly
- the same diameter and length. Place one on top of the other and roll them into a single cylinder.
- Now it’s time to make your sweets! Stretch out the candy cylinder until it reaches the desired thickness. Now cut it into 2.5cm (1in) lengths using strong kitchen scissors. Shape the sweets as desired, then roll them in caster sugar while still warm. Allow to set for 1–2 hours. Store in an airtight container.