This year I have decided on a homemade Christmas. In order to kick-start my creativity, I have been flicking through magazines, watching copious re-runs of cookery shows on the Food Network UK and delving into my historical cookery and craft books. Homemade sweets make a lovely, economical gift for friends and family. I will buy cellophane bags to put them in. The cost of these bags vary depending on whether you purchase them on-line or at your local store. I buy mine from a local cake decorating shop and they cost 12p per unit. Secure the bags with curling ribbon and a homemade gift tag, job done. This year I am also experimenting using fruit for table and room decorations. I love the colour palette created by seasonal fruit and the smell is heavenly. If you want an even more fragrant scent of Christmas wafting through your home, try filling small glasses with cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and liberally sprinkling the hard spices with ground ginger and nutmeg.
A Selection of Mrs Beeton’s Homemade Sweets Recipes
- Almond Toffee;
- American Candy;
- Barley Sugar;
- Clarified Sugar;
- Butter Scotch;
- Candied Chestnuts;
- Candy Twist;
- Chocolate Caramels;
- Raspberry Caramels;
- Clove Drops;
- Fondant Cream;
- Lemon and Acid Drops;
- Lemon Toffee;
- Russian Toffee;
- Turkish Delight.
1lb of loaf sugar, 5 ozs of almonds, 1/2 a pint of water, a pinch of cream of tartar, almond essence.
Blanch and skin the almonds, cut them across in halves, and dry them in the oven without browning. Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cream of tartar, and boil until a deep amber-coloured syrup is obtained. Remove the stewpan from the fire, add the almonds, boil up again, and pour on to a buttered or oiled tin.
2lb of moist sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, cream of tartar, tartaric acid, 1 dessertspoonful of golden syrup, saffron-yellow, flavouring essence.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, add a good 1/2 a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, and boil to the “large crack” degree (312F). Pour on to an oiled slab, add a little saffron-yellow or other colouring ingredient and flavour to taste. Any flavouring substance may be used, but it should agree with the colour of the candy; thus red should be flavoured with raspberry essence, yellow with pineapple, etc. Add also a pinch of tartaric acid and the golden syrup, work well in, fold up, then pull over an oiled hook, and cut into squares.
1 pint of clarified syrup (see recipe below), 1 teaspoonful of lemon-juice, 5 drops of essence of lemon, saffron-yellow.
Boil the prepared syrup to the “large crack”, add the lemon-juice and lemon-essence, and reboil until it acquires a little colour. Now add a few drops of saffron-yellow, and pour at once on to an oiled slab. When cool, cut into drops about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide, and twist them. Keep in air-tight tins.
1lb of moist sugar, 1/2 a lb of butter, 1/2 a teacupful of cold water, essence of almonds.
Put the water and sugar into a stewpan, let the mixture stand by the side of the fire until dissolved, then add the butter and boil until the mixture becomes quite thick. Stir occasionally until it begins to thicken, and afterwards continuously, as this preparation is liable to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour on to an oiled or buttered tin, and mark and divide.
Syrup for Water Ices (Clarified Syrup)
2lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of water. Put the sugar and water into a copper sugar-boiler or stewpan; when dissolved place over a clear fire, and boil until a syrup is formed, taking care to remove the scum as it rises. If a saccarometer is available for testing the heat of the syrup, it should be boiled until it registers 220F.
Chestnuts and loaf sugar. Remove the shells of the chestnuts, place them in a stewpan of boiling water, boil for about 10 minutes, then drain and skin them. Replace in the stewpan, cover with boiling water, boil until tender but not broken, and let them cool. Allow 1/2 a pint of water to each lb of sugar, boil to the “crack” degree (290F), then dip in the chestnuts one at a time, and place them on an oiled slab.
3 ozs of finely grated vanilla chocolate, 1lb of best loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of cream, 1/2 a pint of milk.
Dissolve the sugar in the milk, add the cream and bring slowly to boiling point. Dissolve the chocolate in the smallest possible quantity of hot water, stir it into the syrup, and boil very gently until a little, dropped into cold water, at once hardens and snaps easily. Pour it on to an oiled slab into a square formed by bars, or failing these, into an oiled tin. When cold, cut into squares with a caramel cutter, or a buttered knife, and wrap each piece in wax paper.
1 1/2 lb of Demerara sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, caramel colouring, almond essence.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil to the “crack” degree, then colour and flavour to taste. Pour the syrup on to an oiled slab, and as the edges cool fold them over. When the whole is cool enough to handle pull it over the candy-hook, cut it into 6-inch lengths, and twist them into a spiral form. If preferred, while granulated sugar may be substituted, and the candy flavoured with vanilla, or it may be coloured red and flavoured with raspberry.
2lb of granulated sugar, 1oz of butter, 1/2 a pint of cream, 1/2 a pint of water, 3 tablespoonfuls of glucose, raspberry essence, cherry-red colouring or carmine.
Put the sugar with the water into a stewpan; when dissolved stir in the glucose, and boil to the “ball” (237F) degree. Add the cream and butter in small pieces, stir and boil until the syrup reaches the “crack” degree, then transfer the stewpan at once to a bowl of cold water, to arrest further cooking. Colour and flavour to taste, pour between bars on an oiled slab or into an oiled tin, and when sufficiently cool, cut into small squares by means of a caramel cutter or a slightly buttered knife, and wrap each caramel in wax paper.
Essence of cloves, a few drops of acetic acid, 1lb of loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of water.
Boil the sugar and water to the ball (237F) degree, add a few drops of acetic acid, and clove essence to taste. Grain the syrup by pressing it against the sides of the pan with the back of the spoon, let it cool slightly, then turn it on to an oiled sheet. Mark it in small squares with the back of a knife, and separate them when cold.
3 lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of cold water, 1/4 of a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, colouring and flavouring ingredients.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cream of tartar, and boil to the “small ball” (237F) degree. Pour the syrup into a basin, let it remain until lukewarm, then stir well with a spatula until white and slightly hardened. Now turn the paste on to a slab or large dish, and knead it with the hands until perfectly smooth. Flavour and colour to taste, and use as required.
Lemon and Acid Drops
1 1/2 lbs of loaf sugar, 1/2 a pint of water, 1/2 a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, essence of lemon, 1 dessertspoonful of tartaric acid.
Boil the sugar, water, and cream of tartar together until the mixture acquires a pale yellow tinge, add essence of lemon to taste, and turn the preparation on to an oiled slab. Sprinkle on the tartaric acid, work it well in, and , as soon as it is cool enough to handle, form into thin rolls, cut off short pieces with the scissors, and roll into shape under the hand. Coat with sifted sugar, dry well, and afterwards store in an airtight tin.
1/2 a lb of icing sugar, 1/4 of a lb of gum arabic, 3 whites of eggs, 1/2 of a pint of water, caramel essence.
Soak the gum arabic in the water until soft, then heat gently until dissolved, and strain it through fine muslin. Return to the stewpan, add the sugar, and when dissolved, stir in the whites of eggs, and whisk until the mixture is quite stiff. Flavour to taste, sugar, and let it remain for about 10 hours. When ready, cut into small squares, and dredge them liberally with icing sugar.
1 lb of loaf sugar, 12 ozs of ground almonds, 3 ozs of sifted icing sugar, 2 whites of eggs, 1 1/2 gills of water.
Boil the sugar and water to 240F, then draw the sugar boiler or pan aside, and when the syrup has cooled slightly add the almonds and whites of eggs. Stir by the side of the fire for a few minutes, then turn on to a slab, stir in the icing sugar, and work with a spatula until the preparation is cool enough to handle. Knead until perfectly smooth, add flavouring to taste, and mould into desired shapes.
4 ozs of icing sugar, 4 ozs of honey, 8 ozs of almonds, 2 whites of eggs, wafer paper.
Blanch and dry the almonds thoroughly. Line a box of suitable size first with white paper and then with wafer paper, both of which must be cut to fit exactly. Put the sugar, honey and whites of eggs into a copper sugar boiler or pan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture becomes thick and white. Drop a little into cold water; if it at once hardens, remove the pan from the fire, and stir in the almonds. Dredge the slab with icing sugar, turn on to it the nougat, and form into a ball. Press into the prepared box, cover with paper, let it remain under pressure until cold then cut up into squares.
1lb of granulated sugar, 4 ozs of butter, the juice of 1 lemon, essence of lemon.
Melt the butter in a stewpan, add the sugar, boil up slowly, stir and boil for a few minutes, and add 1 teaspoonful of lemon-juice, continue boiling to the “crack” (290F) degree, add the rest of the lemon-juice and a few drops of essence of lemon, and pour at once on to a battered or oiled tin.
1/2 lb of loaf sugar, 1/4 of a lb of butter, 1/4 of a pint of cream, 1 tablespoonful of red-currant jelly, vanilla or other flavouring essence.
Place the sugar, butter and cream in a stewpan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan clean. Flavour to taste, pour on to an oiled or buttered tin, and when cold, cut into squares.
1/2 a lb of icing sugar, 1 lb of loaf sugar, 1 oz of leaf gelatine, 2ozs of almonds or pistachios, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 tablespoonful of rum, 1 gill of water.
Put the gelatine to soak in cold water. Blanch the almonds or pistachios, and chop them coarsely. Remove the rinds of the orange and lemon in thin fine strips, place them in a copper sugar boiler or stewpan with the loaf sugar, water, and the strained juice of the orange and lemon. When boiling add the gelatine, simmer until dissolved, then strain into a basin and add the rum. Let the mixture remain until on the point of setting, then stir in the almonds or pistachios, and pour at once into a wetted round tin. When perfectly set turn the jelly out, cut it into 1-inch square pieces, and roll them in icing sugar.