Sunday, 5 December 2010

Homegrown sweets

I'm busy next weekend at a couple of craft fayres so I decided this weekend I needed to make my annual batches of fudge, in preparation for providing my girls' teachers with Christmas presents before the end of term. Last year I finally cracked the technique and conquered fudge-making so this year I dug out the same 3 recipes I had before. As it happens, on the same page of my recipe clippings scrapbook there was a recipe for blackcurrant pastilles that I'd intended to make last year. I stared at it again and wondered why I hadn't done it last year... probably something to do with it requiring liquid pectin. I don't have any in my cupboard this year either... do you?

What I did have in my cupboard (maybe you don't) was a pack of gelatine and a pack of vege-gel. So I dug out my recipe for Turkish Delight and wondered whether I could adapt that recipe to make blackcurrant jellies instead. So I went to my freezer and pulled out a bag that happened to contain 310g of frozen blackcurrants. These I emptied into a pan with a little bit of water. I cooked these for about 10 minutes until they were breaking up then forced them through a sieve to squeeze out their juice.

Next I scattered a sachet of gelatine over a couple of tablespoons of water and set it aside whilst heated 135ml of water with 225g granulated sugar. Once the sugar was dissolved I added the gelatine and stirred until that was melted. Then I brought the mixture to the boil and stirred it on a simmer for about 15 minutes until it was thick. When I removed it from the heat I realised that I couldn't substitute the usual tablespoon of rose water (for Turkish Delight) with the juice from the blackcurrants without messing up the liquid content and probably stopping the whole thing from setting properly. So instead, I sprinkled a sachet of vege-gel over some of the blackcurrant juice before adding that and the rest of the blackcurrant juice to the gelatine mix. I brought the whole thing back to the boil briefly before pouring it into a plastic food box to cool. It didn't immediately set - like vege-gel does - so I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.

When it was cool enough, I put it into the fridge and left it alone overnight. I was pleased to see the next day that it had set so I cut it into little cubes and rolled each one in granulated sugar to finish the sweets off. I fed one to each of my children and to Steve and they all were impressed by the strong blackcurrant flavour and I'm pleased to say that I had got the sweetness right too. What I wasn't sure about was what would happen if I left them out of the fridge - would they stay set or melt back into a pool of liquid. Not feeling too confident, I put them into a container in the fridge and left one out to see what would happen.

By tea time the lone jelly was still a jelly! I shall now leave it there and see if anything else horrible happens to it at room temperature. In the meantime, I think I may just purchase some liquid pectin - if it hasn't been removed from the supermarket shelves to make way for Christmas cake and mincemeat! And I think I may experiment with raspberry and orange flavours.

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