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DIY CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE - FESTIVE CHOCOLATE BUTTONS

5 December 2018

It's that time again! Christmas is in full swing here in London, and I for one am totally embracing the fizz and flounce, the festively dressed windows and holiday excitement this year. Working in food, Christmas actually starts with recipe shoots and planning in July (often coinciding - somewhat sadistically - with the hottest days of the year), and in previous years I've felt a little exhausted by it all by December.

This year however marks our first Christmas in our little flat, and having our own tree has given me an excuse to finally give my collection of Liberty Christmas decorations an outing (here they are in all their glory!). I've been building up my collection each year since first moving to London, and it feels so special to finally have enough to adore our tiny tree.

One of my favourite parts of the Christmas season is planning presents for my family and friends. I love planning gifts for the people I love, and thinking carefully about which wrapping paper, silk ribbon and adornments to use. What I don't love, however, is how expensive it can all get - Christmas gifting can get out of control, which can be stressful for a lot of us. 

So with that in mind, I'm excited to introduce a mini blog series for December - my DIY Christmas gift guide! Homemade gifts, carefully made and beautifully hand-packed and wrapped, are such a special way of spreading the love and festive cheer at Christmas. 

These festive chocolate buttons, or mendiants, are so easy to make. stacked up uniformly, these remind me of the mendiants sold in Paris at Christmas time. Top them with all of your favourite things, and pack in cellophane and ribbon for perfect homemade presents.

THE INGREDIENTS - MAKES 50-60 BUTTONS
150g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
A section of toppings, such as: pistachio slivers, dried rose petals, crushed candy canes, dried fruits, sprinkles

THE RECIPE
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Finely chop the dark chocolate, then place in a large heatproof bowl. Fill a small pan a quarter full with water, then place over a low-medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of the pan, ensuring that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.

Do not stir the chocolate. Keep an eye on it, and once around half of the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the pan and gently stir. This should melt the rest of the chocolate. If the chocolate is not quite melted, return it to the pan of water - off the heat - and allow it to melt for a further five minutes before removing and stirring again.

Use two teaspoon to carefully spoon circles of melted chocolate onto the prepared trays. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt, and a selection of your chosen toppings - toasted pistachio slivers, dried or crystallised rose peals, candied peel and sprinkles all work well.

Allow the buttons to sent firm at room temperature. Do not put them in the fridge, or they will loose their glossiness. Peel the cooled mendicants from the paper, and store in a cool dry place.

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