Tag Archives: xmas

Snowy New Year Cocktail

snowy mint chocolate cocktail

Although we are aware that many people will expect to eat something over the Festive Season, we reviewed what we did last year, which was Christmas lunch for a singleton, and decided that despite all the dating applications at their fingertips and self-help group therapy, that self same singleton would probably have descended to full-scale alcohol dependency with the passing of another year – and so we’ve decided to provide more helpful advice accordingly.

Besides, if I have to endure another bout of a plumply coiffed Nigella spreading warm sauce on her bundt, I think I’ll have to fast forward to next year’s advice to the hapless singleton (that we’re stalking) and book that one-way flight to Switzerland straight away….

Trendy bartenders have a habit of describing a 16-phase construct using ingredients available only in the former Soviet-bloc countries as simple. Which somewhat glosses over the vegetable-carving skills and hand-blown apothecary’s distillation equipment that you’ll also inevitably need.

Please trust me that when I say this is simple, it really truly is. You simply take one of granny’s old sherry/liqueur glasses (the ones you gave to the charity shop and then bought back again when “retro” became cool, start with some mint liqueur (a shot – 30ml), then carefully layer over a slightly smaller shot of white chocolate liqueur in the manner of finishing an Irish Coffee with cream – namely, over a spoon to avoid mixing the layers. Because these are the only two ingredients they have to speak for themselves, so you should avoid the horrors lurking at the back of your drinks cabinet and buy really good versions of these. We used Briottet Menthe Verte and Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur which is an unbelievable concoction of whiskey, Belgian white chocolate, cream and real vanilla. This wintry cocktail was inspired by one of Bebe Von Boom Boom’s recipes we showed last year and is also delicious!

The end result looks like a virgin snowfall on the pine trees growing up the slopes of your fave ski resort – so it’s as festive as a freshly stuffed Norfolk Black (and we all know how Brenda loves a good stuffing). As a final bonus, who doesn’t love mint-choc and you could probably quietly ask for this little gem of a cocktail as a dessert instead of a pudding….

Happy New Year from your two Fabulous Hostesses, that’s us, Fanny and Brenda. We hope you make it through the holidays unscathed and with the same number of children/boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives that you started with – and we’ll see you in 2016 for more of our unique take on food and drink. We are beautiful!


Brenda’s Plum Vodka

From about the end of November through to mid January, Fanny spends herself enjoying the finer aspects of the season. I trail along barely able to keep up with her considerable consumption. However I am taken to parties with her because she has to show she has at least one good looking pretty and intelligent friend. It would be a tragic situation but for the fact that like her I enjoy a good drink. This year we have had a plum glut – our two old trees produce what we believe are Early Rivers plums. They aren’t the greatest ‘eaters’ if I’m honest, and they are better cooked. They make lovely stewed plums for instance. However I now have a freezer full of them so time to move on. This week I bought some Russian standard vodka and decided to merge the plums with vodka to be enjoyed leisurely at Christmas. I am storing this in a 2 litre kilner style storage jar which has been sterilised beforehand.

plum vodka makde using russian vodka and our own home grown plums


1l 40% Russian standard vodka
300g of sugar
Plums to fill the jar once the vodka and the sugar have been poured in.


Pour in vodka
Pour in sugar
Add plums
Seal lid
Place somewhere cool for three months, occasionally shaking it up to dissolve the sugar.
Test 1 month before using that you like the sweetness. If it needs more sugar, now is the time to add it.

Lemon and Ginger Marscapone Tart

fanny and brendas lemon and ginger marscapone tartThis fabulous recipe is one that has been developed after several trials. It concentrates on lemon with influences of ginger to inform the flavour, and also uses lemon zest to give those momentary experiences of pure lemon in the mouth. There are no distracting flavours and this is a recipe that I highly recommend. It is equally good as an alternative at Christmas, or to finish off a midsummer supper.

Use the rough puff pastry as illustrated on this blog: it’s much better than the packaged pastry. (If you plan to make one tart then halving the measures listed in the puff pastry recipe will suffice.) http://fannyandbrenda.com/blog/quick-puff-pastry/


Preheat the oven to 180°c

4 large eggs separated
200g caster sugar
200ml double cream
300g marscapone cheese
Juice from two lemons
Zest from two lemons
50g candied lemon peel
150g puff pastry – using our recipe!
1 tbsp of candied ginger


Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry thinly.

Get you tart case and grease. Place baking paper over it. (If you are using a pop out baking dish then ignore this instruction – I add it purely for the ease of removing the tart after it has baked and cooled!)

Now add the pastry

Cut to size and shape and add another (2nd) layer of baking paper.

Add the baking beans and place in oven for 10 minutes to blind bake the pastry

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Take out and remove the baking beans and baking paper and replace in oven for ten minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce the heat to 150°c


For the lemon mix:

First cut up your candied ginger quite finely

In a large mixing bowl add the marscapone, cream, 100g of sugar,lemon juice, egg yolks, zest and combine them.

lemon and ginger marscapone tart

In another large mixing bowl add the egg whites and the other 100g of caster sugar and whisk together till it forms little peaks.

Add the egg whites to the first mixture and stir in.

Take the candied ginger and sprinkle it on the base of the tart

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Now pour the mixture into the cooled tart case and cook for about 20-25mins. You want the top to still have  a lemony colour, and once it starts to brown at the edges, you know it is cooked. The middle will be wobbly but that will set. Leave to cool.

Serve with some cream.*

(* Our cream was whipped with about 50ml of lemon juice and 50ml of limoncello. A superb combination that complements this tart awfully well!)
lemon and ginger marscapone tart

Christmas Cake -Part 3 – The marzipan layer

fanny and brendas christmas cake marzipan layer

So you’ve got your cake, and for several weeks you have been injecting it with plenty of alcohol I hope. There’s no point in a dry fruit cake. Of course the alcohol, be it a brandy or a rum or indeed both, acts as a preservative as well as influencing the end flavour and moisture of the fruit inside.


225g icing sugar
225g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 eggs (whole)
Juice of a lemon
Splosh of brandy
Splosh of almond extract
500g of ground almonds


Sieve the sugars into a mixing bowl and add the ehss

Beat them together

Place over a low heat and whisk until fluffy

Cool in a bowl of ice cold water for a minute

Add the brandy, lemon and almond extract

Stir in the ground almonds till stiff

At this point I would leave it for an hour or so. In the filming we continued but giving the almond paste an hour or two in the fridge helps to firm it up.

Roll out like pastry

Brush some egg white to the top of the cake

Place the marzipan over the cake and pat down. Add to sides and fill in where necessary.

Leave for a while and then you are ready for the icing.

How to make delicious mince pies

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style


Well! I don’t often say it but Brenda has come up trumps with her fantastic mince pies. Like you, I know she’s a ghastly old curmudgeon but underneath that hideous exterior lies an ability to cook well when she makes the effort.

We are now in the run up to Christmas and time is short. The mincemeat is now made and the pastry (see previous post) is ready so it’s really a case of compilation.

Take about a quarter of the puff pastry (about 250g) and roll it out. Roll it pretty thin. We can’t bear thick pastry – it is the case but it’s not the filling too!

Take a greased muffin tin and place the pastry within each holder.

At this point Brenda had a brainwave and added a small ball of marzipan to each pie, placing it in the centre. The marzipan was left over from the christmas cake (recipe forthcoming!) and it’s a delicious addition. Place the mincemeat around the marzipan, and then add the pie topping. Apply some egg wash and then place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°c /350°f.

Serve with some lovely double cream with added lemon zest and grand marnier and frankly you will never want to eat a commercial mince pie again!

If you are thinking of leaving mince pies out for some gaudily dressed and rather overweight bearded old man who may want to pop down your chimney then may I suggest leaving a few of these mince pies under the christmas tree. Of course he will probably be unable to go back up your chimney as these mince pies are delicious so if you hear the front door slam in the middle of the night don’t be too surprised.

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

Christmas Cake – Part 2 -The Bake

Okay so you have macerated your dried fruit and left it for a few days to soften in the licquor. You will find that all the licquor will have been absorbed by the fruit and it will be glowing and shiny. Instead of stuffing it down your mouth (Fanny often gives in to temptation at this point unless I am there glaring at her!) we think that you would be better advised putting it straight into the cake mixture. So why not watch our demonstration on the video to get a good idea of what is needed next.


300g plain flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
300g butter
300g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
50g chopped almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange

christmas cake by fanny and brenda

Baking Day

Preheat the oven to a 130°C. We cook at a lower temperature for a more even cook. The cake should not be dry.

Place the treacle somewhere warm to increase its runniness as it’s easier to manage that way.

Grease a large cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl you want to sieve the flour and mix in the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixd spice together.

In another bowl cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Make sure it is light and fluffy – this is the cake mix and you don’t want a heavy lumpen cake!

Beat the eggs and add gradually while beating to the cake mix.

Once the egg has been added, add the spices and flour by folding it in carefully.

The add your fruit, nuts, treacle and peel and stir in.
christmas cake by fanny and brenda

Spoon the mixture evenly around the cake tin and then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

Do not check on the cake until late into the bake.

Take out of the oven and wrap well in the greaseproof paper .

Once cooled place it in an airtight container.

Some people inject it with more alcohol over its maturing period.

We will come to the subject of icing nearer Christmas.

Christmas Cake -Part 1- Preparing the fruit

Now that autumn (fall) is well underway it’s time to think about the Christmas cake as it is best made a few weeks before the big event to allow the fruit within to mature, allowing that wonderful fruity plum flavour to develop.

xmas cake cooked properly with fanny and brenda

Christmas cake is easily ruined and there are plenty of examples of awful make do commercial ones out there. Equally, there are some good ones so why bother? Well Brenda and I like to create something big to share and we like it with a substantial brandy input. We present a four part video, two of which will come out over the next few days and then we concentrate on the marzipan and icing at maturation, about a week or two before Christmas. It’s actually reasonably quick to make once you have portioned out all the ingredients. For this part of the recipe here they are:

Ingredients for the fruit mix in Fanny and Brenda’s Joyous Christmas cake

450g currants
175g sultanas
175g raisins
50g glacé morello cherries
100g mixed peel
25g cranberries
1 tbspn glacé ginger
40g dried apricots
50g chopped dates
2 chopped figs
50g chopped prunes
50cl 40% brandy


Portion out all your fruit as above
Place in bowl and stir into each other
Add the brandy
Cover with some cling film and leave to macerate for a couple of days.