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What you need:

100g (3 1/2oz) cocoa powder
340g (11 1/2oz) self-raising four
2tsp baking powder
500g (17 1/2oz) caster sugar
5 medium eggs
15ml (1tbsp) vanilla extract
275g (9 1/2oz) butter, softened

 For the salted caramel:

75g (2 1/2oz) butter
50g (1 3/4oz) soft brown sugar
50g (1 3/4oz) caster sugar
50g (1 3/4oz) golden syrup
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) double cream
2tsp sea salt flakes
100g (3 1/2oz) white chocolate
100g (3 1/2oz) dark chocolate
2tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

What you do:

Preheat the oven to , 180 C  / 350 F / gas  mark 4

Grease a 21cm (8in) diameter bundt or ring tin. Put the cocoa in a bowl and add 200ml  (7fl oz) boiling water and stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour with the baking powder and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter to the cocoa mixture and beat for 1 minute using an electric whisk.

Gradually add the egg  mixture to the flour mix, whisking well after each addition. Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

To make the caramel, melt the butter, brown sugar, caster sugar and golden syrup in a heavy- based pan. Simmer gently for 5 minutes stirring now and then. Pour over the cream, add the salt and stir well. Simmer for 1 minute more, then set aside to cool.

To make the curls, melt the two chocolates separately and pour into separate baking trays in a thin layer. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Once hard, drag the blade of a large knife along the chocolate to scrape up a thin curled layer. Chill until needed.

To serve, pour the caramel over the cooled cake and sprinkle with the chocolate curls and almonds.

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What you need:

700 g Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored

1 onion, finely chopped

250 g cranberries

350 ml apple cider vinegar

200 g sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

What you do:

Slice the apples into halves. Slice the halves lengthways into smaller pieces, roughly  0.5 cm width.

Place the apple pieces and finely chopped onion into a saucepan with all the other ingredients and 2 tsp salt. Heat the mixture until it is simmering quickly. Cook the mixture for 45 minutes, or until the chutney has thickened slightly and the fruit has become soft.

Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars and screw the lids onto the jars tightly. Allow to cool before storing in a cool, dark place.

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What you need:

stick unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
2 lbs good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (20 cups)
4 inner celery ribs, finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 large carrots, finely diced (1 cup)
1 sweet onion, finely diced (2 1/2 cups)
1 lb loose pork or turkey breakfast sausage
2 tbsp chopped sage
2 tbsp chopped thyme
3 cups turkey stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper

What you do:

Preheat the oven to  180 C /350 F/ gas mark 4

Butter a large baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast for 25 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt the 1 stick of butter. Pour half of the butter into a small bowl and reserve. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Scrape the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet in lumps and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a spoon, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Return the vegetables to the skillet, add the sage and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the stock and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan, until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Scrape the sausage mixture into the large bowl and add the toasted bread cubes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and stir until the bread is evenly moistened. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread the stuffing in the baking dish and brush with the reserved melted butter.

Bake the stuffing in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour, until it is heated through and the top is browned and crisp. Let the stuffing stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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What you need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cooking apples, approx 140/5oz each, peeled
3 x 450g/ 1lb packs good-quality pork sausage
2 x 200g/ 7oz packs vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
small bunch parsley, leaves roughly chopped
small bunch sage, leaves roughly chopped
small bunch thyme, leaves stripped
1 egg
100g white breadcrumbs
175g fresh or frozen cranberries
24 rashers streaky bacon
butter, for greasing

What you do:

Preheat oven to 190 C/ 375 F /gas  mark 5.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then gently fry the onion for 5 mins until softened. Finely chop the apples either by hand or in a food processor.

Squeeze the sausage meat from the sausages into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients, except the cranberries and streaky bacon. Season generously, then get your hands in and mix well.

To assemble, butter and season a large sheet of foil. Stretch out the bacon rashers slightly with the back of a kitchen knife, then overlap 12 rashers on the foil. Spoon half of the stuffing mix evenly over the bacon, leaving a border of about 3cm. Scatter with half the cranberries, then pat them in. Tuck the long edges of the bacon over the stuffing; then, using the foil to help, roll the stuffing up into a log shape. Repeat to make a second roll.

Put the foil-wrapped rolls onto a roasting tin and roast for 45 mins. Unwrap, draining off any juice, then finish roasting for 15 mins until the bacon is crisp.

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What you need:

2 1/2 lbs (about 2 loaves) hearty vegan white bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 5 quarts)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb button  mushrooms (or a mix), roughly chopped

6 oz  toasted pecan halves
1/2 cup minced fresh sage leaves (or 1 tbsp dried sage leaves)
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large leek, white part only, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large stalks celery, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a grater
32 oz (4 cups) vegetable stock
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

Preheat oven to 140 C /275 F / gas mark 1

Spread bread evenly over two rimmed baking sheets. Stagger trays on oven racks and bake until completely dried, about 50 minutes total, rotating trays and stirring bread cubes several times during baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Increase oven heat to  180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4

Place half of mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, about 8 short pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining mushrooms. Place pecan halves in food processor (do not wipe out bowl) and process until roughly chopped, about 12 short pulses. Set aside.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until all moisture has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add half of sage and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Add onions, leeks, celery, garlic, and remaining sage and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add stock and pecans and bring to a boil. Add bread cubes and fold gently until evenly mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture to a greased 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking dish (or 10 by 14 oval dish), cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until hot throughout, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and crisp on top, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.

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What you need:

1 tbsp butter
3 onions, chopped
15g pack sage, shredded
200g pack cooked chestnuts
100g hazelnuts
100g breadcrumbs
½ tsp mace
2 large eggs, beaten

2 tbsp butter, plus extra to serve
15 rashers streaky bacon
few sage leaves, to serve (optional)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F /gas mark 6

To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a large non-stick pan, add the onions and gently cook for 10-15 mins until very soft. Stir in the sage for 1 min, then tip into a large mixing bowl. Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped into small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions and repeat with the hazelnuts. Add the breadcrumbs, mace, beaten egg, 1 tsp salt and some pepper, and mix everything together well.

Tear off a very large sheet of foil. Smear the butter in the middle, making a rectangle about 30 x 40cm. Lay the bacon rashers over in a row, overlapping a little. Use a rolling pin to slowly but firmly roll down the length of the bacon strips to stretch them a bit. Shape the stuffing into a log along the rashers. Using the foil to help you, roll up the stuffing so that it is completely wrapped in the bacon. Over wrap with the extra foil and twist the ends to tighten and seal. If it’s not very round, give it an extra roll or two on your work surface. Chill until ready to roast. Can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge.

Bake  for 30 mins. then unwrap the stuffing and continue to cook for 30 mins more until crisp. Keep warm, then slice and serve with sage leaves fried in butter, if you wish.

 

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What you need:

good knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
170g pack sage and onion stuffing (we used Paxo)
24 thin smoked streaky bacon rashers
12 bay leaves (optional)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F /gas mark 6

Butter 12 holes in a muffin tin. Make up the stuffing mix with 520ml boiling water. Add the butter and stir well. Set aside to absorb the water and cool.

Meanwhile, criss-cross two bacon rashers, with a bay leaf if using, in each space in the muffin tin, allowing the excess to overhang the tin. Spoon the cool stuffing mixture into the tin and fold the overhanging bacon over the top to make a parcel. Secure in place with cocktail sticks. Chill until ready to bake.

Bake for 30 mins, until piping hot and the bacon is cooked. (Remove cocktail sticks before serving.)

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What you need:

85g apricot jam
100g sifted icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
750g marzipan
2kg ready-to-roll regal icing
blue, brown, orange and green food colouring
85g desiccated coconut
a few whole cloves
3 strawberries laces

What you do:

Ice the cake:

Melt the apricot jam, then sieve and brush a little all over a 23cm cake .On a clean surface lightly dusted with a little sifted icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to a circle large enough to cover the cake – use a piece of kitchen string to help you check. Lift up the marzipan by hanging it over your rolling pin, then drape over the cake. Gently pat and smooth the marzipan down the sides of the cake, then trim any excess from the bottom.

Colour the regal icing with a little blue food colouring, then cover the marzipan using the same method as you covered the cake, firstly brushing the marzipan with more apricot jam. Trim the base.

Add The Snow:

Use your hands to roll two-thirds of the remaining regal icing into a long, thin sausage on an icing sugar-dusted surface. It should be long enough to go round the cake – use a piece of kitchen string to help you measure it. Use a rolling pin to roll the sausage into a strip about 5cm wide. Use a small, sharp knife to straighten one edge, and trim the other into a wiggly edge.

Keep all the trimmings, and squash half into 2 wobbly circles for the snowmen to sit on. Brush the strip, circles and the very bottom edge of the cake with a little runny icing made with 100g sifted icing sugar and a splash of water. Scatter the desiccated coconut over the strip and circles, gently pressing to stick and cover. Starting with one end of the strip, stick it round the base of the cake. This can be a bit fiddly, so if you’re nervous, simply halve the icing from the start and do in 2 half-length strips, using a little more coconut to hide the joins on the cake.

Shaping the Snowmen:

Roll the remaining third of regal icing into 2 large balls, 2 medium balls and 2 small balls. Stick together, squashing slightly, into 2 snowmen. Brush 4 cocktail sticks with a little brown food colouring and stick into the snowmen for arms.

To add the buttons & noses, push a few whole cloves into one snowman as buttons. Use a little orange food colouring to dye a little of the strip trimmings, and shape a little around the pointy end of 2 cloves to look like carrot noses. Use another clove to make little holes where the noses will go, dab a bit of runny icing into the holes and stick on the noses, pushing them into the holes to help hold them.

For the faces: Use a black or brown writing icing pen to dot on smiley mouths and eyes – I find it helps to mark tiny holes with the end of a cocktail stick first. It stops you making mistakes and helps the icing stay in place.

To make the hat: Dye another lump of regal icing trimmings with food colouring (I used green). Shape most into a woolly hat shape, pressing a slight dip into the bottom with your thumb where it will sit on the snowman’s head. Roll a little ball to stick on top of the hat; attach it with more runny icing. Then roll and cut a thin strip to stick round the base of the hat. Use a cocktail stick to make markings like a woolly hat and rough up the ball on top. A little more runny icing will help it stick onto your snowman’s head.

Finally to make the scarf: Knot the strawberry laces together at one end. Tightly plait a 10cm length and knot at the end again. Using scissors, snip the ends, leaving about 1cm for tassels after the knot, then wrap around the neck of the other snowman. Sit the wobbly snowy islands on top of the cake and a snowman on each one.

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What you need:

200 ml double cream

200 g good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

200 g desiccated coconut

What you do:

Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring just up to the boil. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour over the boiling cream, then stir until the chocolate and cream are well blended and smooth. Cool, then set aside in the fridge until the mixture is solid, about 2 hrs.

Scoop out teaspoons of the mixture and roll into small walnut-size balls with your hands. Sprinkle the coconut onto a plate and roll the truffle in the coconut until evenly covered.

These will keep in a cool place for 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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What you need:

200g Madeira cake
140g-160g white chocolate
1 orange, zest finely grated
To decorate:
300g dark chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids, broken into chunks
50g white chocolate, broken into chunks
sugar holly decorations or red and green writing icing

What you do:

Pulse the Madeira cake in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over just simmering water or in the microwave. Stir the orange zest into the chocolate, then work the chocolate into the crumbs using your hands.

Form into 10 small truffle-sized balls, then roll gently in your palms to smooth the surface. Arrange the balls on a baking parchment-lined dinner plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to set.

Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave or over a bowl of just simmering water. Dip a lolly stick into the melted chocolate about 1.5cm in and poke half way into a cake ball. Repeat with the remaining balls. Put them back on the plate. Return to the fridge for five minutes.

Dip the cake pops one at a time into the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off and spin the pops to even out the surface. Poke the pops into a piece of polystyrene or cake pop holder if you have one, keeping the pops apart. Allow to set for about half an hour.

Heat the white chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool for a few minutes until it has a thick, runny consistency. If the chocolate is too hot, it will melt the dark chocolate underneath. Spoon a small amount on top of the cake pops, tip them back and forth so it runs down the sides a little. If you have holly decorations, pop one on the top of each pop. If using writing icing, wait for another 20 minutes or so until the white chocolate has set. Pipe on holly leaves with the green icing and two little dots for berries using the red.

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