Saturday, 12 December 2015

Christmas gifting: Homemade foodie treats

cherry brandy recipe mulling syrup

Today I have pretty much finished my Christmas shopping. This has never, ever happened before, and does make me nervous I've forgotten something... Admittedly, there are a few presents I have decided to make/sew, and still need to buy a few metres of fabric and various bits and bobs, but the main stuff is done. High five!

Some gifts were started back in the summer. Earlier this year, a friend invited me and the kids to help pick the cherries from her tree, which was just groaning with fruit. They are Morello cherries and therefore not for eating but they are insanely good in baking. I made a cherry pie after being badgered for days by my youngest. It took ages, what with all the pastry making and cherry pitting. He took one bite, declared that he 'hates cherries', and left the table.

So I decided to put the rest of the fruit to much better use and make a batch of cherry brandy.

Cherry Brandy

You will need:
Fresh cherries - I used 300g
100g sugar

Put all the ingredients into a sterilised kilner jar, making sure the seal is tight and the brandy generously covers the top of the fruit.
For the first two weeks, shake the jar every day.
Give it a shake as and when you remember from thereon in.


As well as the cherry brandy, I'm making up a batch of mulling syrup to give as little gifts this year. Seen that pin about how to make your home smell Christmassy? Just give this syrup a go and you're there, with the added bonus of having a warm drink to go with it.

Mulling Syrup

You will need:

250g sugar
2 satsumas
1 lemon
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 vanilla pod
Fresh nutmeg, grated
Small piece of ginger

Peel the satsumas and the lemon, and put the peel into a large saucepan along with the sugar, spices and ginger.
Squeeze the juice of the satsumas into a measuring jug, and top up with water until you have one litre of liquid.
Add the contents of the measuring jug to the saucepan, and place over a medium heat.
Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is at a simmer, turn down the heat and leave to bubble away for 20 minutes.
Leave to cool, strain, and pour into sterilised bottles.

To use:

Put 400ml of syrup into a saucepan with one bottle of red wine (or 750ml of cider).
Heat gently and serve, topped with fresh orange slices.


These two recipes need beautiful glass jars or bottles to make them gift-worthy. Head to HomeSense, whose range of preserving jars and decorative homewares are the cherry on the top.

In collaboration with HomeSense
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