Thursday, December 22, 2011

Season's Greetings…


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Chocolate Fudge

This irresistible Christmas chocolate fudge is a great treat or gift for the festive season!
Ingredients (makes 64 pieces)
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose syrup
125g butter, chopped
180g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup bottled fruit mince
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dry-roasted hazelnuts
1. Grease pan a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.
2. Place condensed milk, sugar, syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.
3. Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate, fruit mince, cranberries and hazelnuts until combined and chocolate melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.
4. Cut into 2.5cm pieces. Serve.
Use a heavy-based saucepan for even heat and to prevent fudge from sticking to the base and burning. Fudge sets quickly, so work fast when stirring in the chocolate and spreading it into the pan or it may seize. Store fudge in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Simple Sugar Cookies

This classic cookie recipe will instantly evoke warm Christmas memories!

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
2. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-inch one-piece-shaped cookie cutter. To make an ornament, cut out a hole from the center of the neck about 1/4-inch from the edge using a straw. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
4. Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crafty Calendar

Count down the days until Christmas with a handmade Advent calendar that is both decorative and fun. Use Christmas inspired fabrics such as plaid and gingham to stitch up small Santa hats. Then fill the hats with Christmas treats and toys and attach a paper number charm to each one. Hang the hats from a suspended rope and display in an open window. Kids will love opening a different hat for each day of December and finding the treats inside!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crafty Christmas Decorating!

Show off your season’s greetings in a decorative way by arranging your cards on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. Use Blu-Tack to stick the cards to the wall. This way you can easily rearrange or add to the collection and literally watch your tree grow.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY Doily Canvas Bag


We came across this fun little tutorial on customising a canvas bag on Ashley Ann Photography Blog. Personalise each bag with a different letter and fill it with goodies as the perfect gift for friends and family.

Canvas bag 
Fabric paint
Paper doily
Adhesive Spray
1. Spray doily with paper spray adhesive and press down on the bag (not shown). (Using Krylon Paper Finishes adhesive allows the doily to stick in place while you paint, but it easily pulls off without leaving a sticky mess behind after you paint.) 
2. Gently paint over the holes – I recommend paint meant for fabric, not crafts. I first used craft paint…fabric paint will be more durable.
3. Peel back doily before paint dries. The doily might tear, just peel off the pieces.
4. Trace the letter you have selected letter and fill it in with paint.   

Here’s some ideas for using it as a Christmas gift: 
For a cook: fill it with cooking supplies  
For a gardner: fill it with gardening supplies  
For a teacher: find out an activity they enjoy and do something related to that

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All You Need To Wrap The Perfect Gift!


Bespoke Letterpress Boutique have a new range of letterpressed Christmas cards, gift tags, gift wrap, ribbon, tapes and twines for the festive season. Your gifts will look too good to open!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DIY Christmas wreath

Dress your entry door with a handmade Christmas wreath.

What you will need
Monkey vine wreath
Fresh or artificial flowers
Fine-gauge floral wire
Thick satin ribbon
Removable adhesive Hook
How to
1. Gather several small bunches of the chosen blooms and attach them to the wreath using floral wire. Vary the direction the flowers face.
3. Position flowers randomly around the wreath for a contemporary look. Spritz the flowers with water to keep them looking fresh.
4. Hang the wreath with a loop of ribbon on the hook.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Pudding Truffles


For the ultimate homemade gift, make a batch of these bite-sized truffles coated in rich dark and white chocolate.   

Ingredients (makes 80)
500g light fruitcake, coarsely chopped
100g dark chocolate melts, melted
60ml (1/4 cup) brandy
2 tbs apricot jam
250g dark chocolate melts, extra
60g copha, chopped
150g white chocolate melts, melted
Red and green glace cherries, finely chopped, to decorate

1. Place the cake in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the dark chocolate, brandy and jam. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until slightly firm.
2. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Stir the cake mixture. Roll 2-teaspoonful quantities of cake mixture into balls and place on the lined trays. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm.
3. Place the extra dark chocolate and copha in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cook on High/800watts/100% for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
4. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Use a truffle dipper or fork to dip 1 truffle in the chocolate mixture to coat. Remove truffle, tapping the dipper or fork on the side of the bowl to shake off excess chocolate. Place on 1 lined tray. Repeat with remaining truffles and chocolate mixture. Set aside to set.
5. Spoon the white chocolate into a small sealable plastic bag. Cut 1 corner from the bag to make a small hole. Drizzle a little white chocolate over each truffle. Top with glace cherry to decorate. Set aside until set.

- Store the truffles in an airtight container in a cool dry place (not in the fridge) for up to 2 weeks.
- Make it ahead: At the end of step 2, layer the balls between sheets of non-stick baking paper in an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Traditional Advent Chain

Hang this advent calendar vertically next to the Christmas tree with gift 24 right at the top. Snip one gift from the bottom each day as you count down to Christmas day.
Tools and Materials
Wrapping paper
24 small gifts
Twine or thin ribbon
Rubber stamps or pen
1. Wrap each gift. Tie each with twine, leaving several inches of twine at the top. Stamp or write numbers on tags, and tie them to the gifts.
2. Arrange the gifts in order from 1 to 24. Tie the loose twine on gift 1 to the twine on the bottom of gift 2. Continue, joining all 24. Hang the chain.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paper-Stuffed Christmas Ornament

A clear ornament ball stuffed with cut up pages from an old book and sheet music adds a handmade accent to any Christmas tree.

Two pages of text from a book (try using a Christmas carol or Christmas story)
Clear round glass Christmas ornament
Length of satin ribbon (any colour)

1. Using the scissors cut the text into single-row strips.
2. Remove metal top from ornament. Insert five to seven strips of text into ornament, arranging strips so they line the bowl of the ornament. Shake ornament a few times so strips spread out and settle. 
3. Add another group of strips and arrange as for the first group. Repeat until ornament is full, inserting single strips to fill any open areas. Reattach metal top and hang ornament with ribbon.