Gingerbread Men and Homemade Vanilla Fudge

This year I plan to make some home made presents for friends and family as a personal touch. Although my children are 12 and 15, I think they won’t be able to resist decorating biscuits and making sweets for our Christmas tree.

Christmas is the time for tasty treats – so why not have a go at making some gingerbreads and homemade fudge! No matter how times change, or how Christmas traditions evolve, treats like gingerbread and fudge will still be Christmas family favourites.

History of Gingerbread Men
(scroll down to ingredients if this doesn’t interest you!)
It is widely thought that gingerbread men originated in Market Drayton back in 1793. Originally, gingerbread meant simply “preserved ginger” and was an adaptation of an Old French word, gingebras, which came from the name in Latin of the spice Zingebar.
It’s not just gingerbread men that are typically made at Christmas – gingerbread houses are just as popular. The houses are covered in icing and used as Christmas decorations, as long as no one gets peckish beforehand!

History of Fudge
It is thought fudge was actually made by accident! Although there is no definite origination, it is widely believed that a bag of caramels got “fudged” together back in 1886 and the delicious sweet was born. The story goes that that same year a student sold ‘fudge’ in Baltimore for 40 cents a pound. A fellow student got her hands on the recipe and made 30 pounds of fudge for her college auction. The soft chewy treat was starting to catch on and in 1888 the first fudge shop was opened in Mackinac Island in Michigan. Mackinac is now famous for its fudge.
In other parts of the United States though fudge tends to mean chocolate and most brownies and chocolate cakes have the word fudge on their packaging.

Gingerbread Men
You need:
• 2 ½ cups of flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
• 2 ½ teaspoons ginger powder
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon allspice
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• ¾ cup of sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 cup of molasses
• 1 cup of boiling water
Instructions:
• Preheat the oven to gas mark 4
• Grease and flour a 9-inch baking tray
• In a bowl sieve flour baking powder salt & spices
• In a second bowl whist the oil and sugar together
• Add the egg and molasses and whisk for a few minutes
• Add flour mixture & boiling water & whisk until smooth
• Pour the mixture onto the tray and bake for 25 minutes
• Remove from oven, when cool enough to handle

Use cake cutters to make shapes.

Delicious Vanilla Fudge
Ingredients:
• 300ml milk
• 350g caster sugar
• 100g butter
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
• Grease a large cake tin
• Add milk, sugar and butter to a pan
• Heat slowly until sugar has dissolved and butter melted
• Bring to boil for twenty minutes, stirring continuously
• Using a sugar thermometer check temperature of mixture.
• When it reaches 115 degrees C remove from heat & add vanilla extract and stir
• Transfer into tin and leave to cool.
• Once set cut, cut into pieces using a sharp knife

TIP – You can change the flavour of your fudge by using different extracts, try strawberry extract for a fruity fudge or add some chopped nuts or raisins to the mixture to give it texture.

Why not have a go this year and fill your house with wonderful aromas of Christmas cooking!

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