Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas & fairy lights ♥

What is Christmas?  It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.  ~Agnes M. Pahro

Saturday 24 December 2011

White chocolate eggnog fudge

Last Christmas, my White Chocolate Eggnog Truffles went down a treat so this year I thought I'd stick with the winning flavour combo but in fudge form: White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge

Following the raging success that was the Salted Caramel Fudge, I felt like a fudge ninja.  I was on a fudge making roll.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

'Tis the season for sweet noggy eggnog

Marge: [Opening the refridgerator] Homer, didn't you get any milk? All I see is eggnog.
Homer: 'Tis the season, Marge! We only get thirty sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again. [pours some on his cereal] 
~ The Simpsons (Marge Be Not Proud, season 7, episode 11)

Sweet noggy eggnog.  The best holiday beverage. Smooth, creamy and full of spices; it's like a chai milkshake but boozey.
According to legend (aka wiki), eggnog has its roots in medieval England having developed from "posset", a hot beverage made of sweetened hot milk spiked with ale or wine.  Over the years eggs were added and more potent liquors like brandy, sherry and Madeira used. The drink was popular among the aristocracy as dairy products and eggs were expensive and did not keep well.

The "nog" part of the name may be referring to a small carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol which was called a "noggin" in Middle English or perhaps is a shortened version of "egg 'n' grog" alluding to the name for drinks made from rum.

I love the stuff and I really wanted to make eggnog fudge and eggnog macarons this year for Baking for Hospice and all our Christmas parties coming up.  However, despite our colonial heritage, eggnog isn't a terribly common drink in New Zealand.  Not many of my friends had tried it before and when I went out in search of premade eggnog in liquor stores I couldn't find it anywhere!  So I made my own Sweet Noggy Brandy Eggnog.

Friday 16 December 2011

Candy cane mint chocolate cupcakes

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire 
Jack Frost nipping at your nose 
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir 
And folks dressed up as Eskimos ~ The Christmas Song

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give ~Winston Churchill

C and I were discussing what our favourite Christmas carols were the other day.  It was a surprisingly difficult decision to make.  Do you pick the well known, often sung "Jingle Bells" or "Rudolph"; the local carol "Te Harinui", an oldie but goodie: "Feliz Navidad", hippy fav "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" or a pop anthem like "All I want for Christmas"(Yes, I'm a Love Actually groupie, loud and proud).

In the end I went with the classic: The Christmas Song.  Maybe it's because I grew up down under where Christmas time = summer time so we don't get white Christmases, but there's just something awfully romantic about spending Christmas curled up next to a roaring fire.  Sigh.

But whether you are celebrating a winter or summer Christmas in your part of the world, the season of giving is universal.

Baking = Love.  Giving = Joy.

And it was an absolute joy last week for Baking for Hospice to start baking for Totara Hospice South Auckland.  As a test run last Sunday (the main run being this Sunday),  we delivered baking for their Volunteers' Christmas Morning Tea and as my contribution I indulged my mint and choc obsession and made Candy Cane Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.


Sunday 11 December 2011

Salted caramel fudge: russian fudge's creamy cousin

Fudge, it seems, is rather difficult to fudge up.

They used to let us tackle it as kids to keep us occupied: just throw everything in a dish, microwave and stir, and voila you have fudge!

Making a grown up version however, proved a tad more challenging.  I seriously stuffed the recipe up.  I zapped it on too high a heat, didn't keep track of how long I microwaved it for, and generally didn't pay enough attention to the recipe.  At one point I had laid out my just-starting-to-set fudge into the pan, then turned around to see the white chocolate that was supposed to go into it, still sitting on the chopping board.  Then the white chocolate seized.  This fudge really could've been an utter disaster, but miraculously, I still ended up with a delicious creamy fudge.  Go figure.

A Nessie proof fudge is a fool proof fudge.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Lemon sorbet: when life gives you lemons, make sorbet

Every white will have its black, And every sweet its sour. ~ Thomas Percy

This year hasn't been the smoothest of years.  A bittersweet roller-coaster ride of a year.  It's crazy coz so many people I've talked to have also had a lemon of a year too.  Illness, marriage problems, family dramas; not to mention earthquakes, tsunamis and riots: you name it, its happened this year! What was it about twenty eleven?!

This year I've gotten married, passed my first year of med school and celebrated NZ's historic RWC victory but also said goodbye to a dear family friend, my grandma and my uncle. This topsy-turvey year has really driven home for me two important truths:

Fact 1: Life really is like a box of chocolates....dark chocolates.  The bitterness only makes you appreciate the sweetness all the more.  The deeper that sorry carves into your being, the more joy you can contain ~ Kahil Gibran.

Fact 2: Everything happens for a reason so when life gives you lemons, make lemonade...or Lemon Sorbet.


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