Merry Christmas!

Christmas – one of my favourite times of the year! I love the decorating and planning of it, choosing gifts and wrapping, having a houseful of family and friends. 

It can, however, be a sad time with a loved one no longer here – or it seems as if the whole world has got someone to share it with and you are on your own.

Thus, this month, I am not giving you recipes for traditional big meals, but for sweet treats you can make and give as gifts to friends and neighbours – or equally enjoy on your own, being good to yourself. Collect tins or jars from the charity shop (making them winners too!) and decorate them with pretty ribbons and paper.  Christmas is not the time to hold back on the bling!

NB before anyone comments on the amount of sugar in the next 3 recipes, I know it looks a lot but don’t forget these are sweet treats and only eaten occasionally!


  • 225 grams sugar
  • 50 grams butter
  • juice and zest of a lemon
  • 2 well beaten eggs

Half fill a pan with water and put on to heat.  Put all the ingredients in a bowl, big enough to put into the pan without the water bubbling over.  Keep on a low heat until everything melts, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until a spoonful on a cold plate wrinkles when pushed.  Pour into small jars, cool and keep in the fridge.  Its lovely on hot buttered toast and also as a pudding by swirling it into natural yogurt.


  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 100 grams butter
  • 3 tablespoons treacle
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar

Put everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Keep on a rolling boil (I keep a wooden spoon in it so it doesn’t over boil).  It is ready when a small spoonful goes hard when dropped into a bowl of cold water.  Pour into a greased baking tin (BE CAREFUL AS ITS VERY HOT AND WILL BURN YOUR SKIN).  Allow to harden, turn tin over and tap till it drops out.  Keep in a airproof tin or tupperware.

SCOTTISH TABLET (English fudge) Incredibly easy and even a non-Scot can make it! This recipe was given to me by my friend, Sandra. We started nursing together 50 years ago last August and been close ever since. We don’t see each other as often as we would like – but when we do it’s as if there has never been a space.

  • 150ml evaporated milk
  • 150ml water
  • 75g butter
  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

Butter a 7 inch shallow tin. Put milk, water, sugar and butter in a saucepan and heat through slowly until the sugar has dissolved. The boil steadily for about 10 k- 15 minutes stirring constantly. Test by dropping into a cold glass of water and is ready when you can roll it between your fingers. Take off the heat and add vanilla essence. Cool slightly then beat until the mixture starts to thicken and crystalise. Pour into tin and leave to set. Mark into squares and keep in an airtight tin (it won’t be there for long!)

For the ultimate comfort drink, there will always be HOT CHOCOLATE and here are a couple of festive additions. Why not make a batch, keep (a lot) for yourself and leave a warming flask full on your neighbour’s doorstep as a surprise?


  • 300ml red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 500mls milk
  • 150g dark chocolate

Heat gently and simmer for 10 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the milk, then gradually whisk in the dark chocolate. Strain the red wine into the chocolate pan and stir. Serve in small glasses or cups with extra cinnamon stick stirrers.

LUXURY HOT CHOCOLATE – with lots of topping suggestions!

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 litre milk
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100 ml single cream

Put the cocoa in a large bowl or jug and mix in enough cold milk to make a smooth paste. Put the rest of the milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Whisk the milk into the cocoa paste until everything is incorporated then pour back into the pan. Add the sugar, chopped chocolate, vanilla and cream and heat gently, stirring until everything is combined. Sweeten with extra demerara sugar to your liking.

TOPPINGS – dark rum, whisky, brandy, Disaronno or Baileys / squirty cream / Cadbury flake /cinnamon sticks/ ground cinnamon / chocolate chips / mini marshmallows /fudge chunks

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Ailsa, The Husband, Catkin, the cat, and The Four Hens!


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