In my quest to share the holiday spirit through food, I may have overdone it a bit this week. It started off innocently enough in the planning stage about a month ago. I like to give food gifts at Christmas. This began years ago when I was still in high school. I would make a hamper of goodies for my friend’s families. Now I tend to do food gifts for people at work. Last year I went a bit overboard making fudge, rum balls and truffles, which took several nights to complete, and this year I promised myself I was just going to make one thing. Small gingerbread trees (out of stars). I did a test run a month ago, it all worked so I was (I thought) set.

Then, a work morning tea was organised, and I offered to bake. So far, still okay. It was then decided that there would be a “best representation of a Christmas tree” competition at the morning tea. My team settled on my suggestion, a gingerbread Christmas tree decorated by the team. And there went my Christmas gift plan.

My team's gingerbread Christmas tree

My team’s gingerbread Christmas tree

The end result was over the last week I have:

  • Cooked a dinner party for friends (home made dips, slow cooked roast lamb with a few sides and two desserts);
  • Baked and decorated numerous gingerbread stars, men and ornaments, and assembled a tree made out of decorated stars;
  • Baked cupcakes and a yule log for the work morning tea; and
  • Made and packaged up fudge and rum balls to give out at work.
Death by chocolate cupckaes

Death by chocolate cupcakes

Not to mention I still had to work everyday, finishing up the Christmas shopping, etc. Let’s just say I spent a lot of yesterday sleeping to recover. But it was worth it. I had a lovely night with my friends over for dinner last weekend, the gingerbread tree turned out amazingly well (even if we didn’t win – we still got to eat it) and everyone loved the morning tea and the gifts. So I was happy, if a bit tired.

Now however I am very behind with posting, so today I will share my three holiday baked gift ideas, starting with the easiest fudge recipe ever. I don’t even know where the recipe came from originally, that is how long I’ve been making it. I think it was one of those Nestlé Christmas recipes that you find in magazines at this time of year.Choc almond fudge

Chocolate and almond fudge

I use a 23cm x 23cm (base) square slice tin for this recipe

Ingredients

  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 375g dark chocolate (bits, buttons or a block cut into pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds (either roasted or straight out of the pack – it’s nice either way)

Method

  1. Line the tin with baking paper and set aside until needed.
  2. Combine the condensed milk and chocolate in a small-medium saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir until melted and combined.
  3. Remove from the heat once melted and add vanilla and most of the almonds. Stir to combine then pour into the lined tin. Smooth over the top with a spatula and then sprinkle over the remaining almonds. Cover with cling film (I like to press the almonds on top in slightly). Leave to cool at room temperature and then place in the fridge. Once cool and set, slice into squares. Store in the fridge.

Note – you could replace the almonds with any other nut you prefer, or even some dried fruits or white chocolate bits.