The one where I rustle up some Baileys Christmas Fudge with a tipple on the side

Baileys Christmas fudge feature

I’ve made some fudge for Christmas. I haven’t fudged up the fudge because I’ve made it before, using a favourite drinking implement called Baileys. A couple of years on the trot I carried white chocolate Baileys fudge into work to hand out to pasty-faced hungover journos who’d had one drink too many at the works’  Christmas do. A sugar hit is a fine reviver.

This time though, I’ve left out the white chocolate as the good people of Baileys sent me another recipe, Baileys Christmas Fudge, devised by on-trend London baker Lily Vanilli. I’ve added my own tweak, a glass of Baileys.

It’s easy peasy, it really is. This is what I did last night – you can follow my photo-guide, but I’m a bit embarrassed that I’ve messed up on the tidiness / kitchen etiquette / presentation skills. They’re a bit like my dusting skills if I’m honest.

Baileys Christmas Fudge: What you need

200ml Baileys
400g tin of condensed milk
450g light brown sugar
120g unsalted butter
2cm square tin lined with baking paper
Sugar thermometer
(If you don’t have one,  put a glass of really cold water on standby)
A large glass of Baileys and ice,  because you know you want to

How to make the fudge:

Place everything in a non-stick saucepan and melt gently over a low heat stirring slowly until the sugar has dissolved. I always use the biggest pan I’ve got to do this, as you’ll be stirring like crazy and you can really dig in deep!!

Have a sip of the Baileys.

Once all is dissolved bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring all the time. Keep scraping the bottom so the sticky sweetness doesn’t catch and burn. Be careful, the mix will be really hot.

Have a sip of the Baileys.

To test if its ready drop a teeny amount into the glass of cold water and a small ball of fudge should form. If you have the thermometer, it will be ready when it reads about 116C

Have a sip of the Baileys.

Remove from the heat and beat the fudge until its very thick and starting to set, which will be about 10 minutes. I put the oven timer on at this point so I kept going ….. when it beeped I had a sip of the Baileys.

Pour into the prepared tin and leave to cool before cutting. I went into the lounge and had a final sip of the Baileys.

Lily Vanilli suggests you cut the fudge into stars, pop in a bag and decorate with holly. I didn’t have any star cutters so I just cut the fudge as well as I could and I’ve wrapped in some tissue for little gifts.

Lily has created other Christmas hacks including Baileys Hot Chocolate, glittery cranberries and sparkling pecans. To find out more,  and to see how the super star Baileys Christmas Fudge should really look, you can go to the Lily Vanilli blog here.

*Baileys Irish Cream liqueur is available at all major supermarkets RRP £14.99.  To keep up with their latest ideas, they’re on Twitter and Instagram



Take one bottle of Fiano, add rice … then stir and slurp

Cooking with wine

I WAS happily stirring rice last weekend for my version of risotto when I started thinking about wine with food. No apologies if I’ve said this before … I love wine, I love food, I love wine with food. I love cooking with wine.

It’s thanks to my favourite combo that I have a wine glass figure rather than an hourglass figure.

In my glass was The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fiano 2014 (£6.99 until November 24) and I was daydreaming that its lovely how cooking with wine can turn a simple dish into something magical.

If you like food and wine, and don’t know where to start when matching one to the other, a good rule of thumb is to think where the wine comes from. Well, it works for Old World wines such as those from France, Spain, Italy. They’ve been produced by local people for local drinking with their local foods.

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It doesn’t take a genius then to think ah, I know, Italian red wine for pasta and pizza; a red Burgundy with French classics. I’m not a genius, and that’s how I think.

I’m not a food and wine pairing expert; I just go with the flow, follow my instinct (and read lots of books and websites!)

Back to my fiano. Its an Italian white, and the Co-op’s wine comes from Campania where vines grow under the influence of the Mediterranean.

Right I thought, I’ll slosh some wine into the pan (and my glass too) with the arborio rice and cook it out before throwing in stock.

I’d already fried onions, green pepper, garlic, and cubed pancetta in the pan, then tipped out before adding the rice. I popped a handful of frozen peas into the still-hot veg so they’d warm through.

When the rice was almost done I added chicken which had been poached separately in stock and a glass of fiano wine, and then I tumbled in raw king prawns.  The vegetables went back in the pan to warm through with a good handful of chopped parsley and basil.

The wine added a good fruity citrus bite to each mouthful; and in a glass it had floral hums, a breeze of herb and the same citrus reflections. Whether this was risotto or paella I don’t really know .. but it was fun making it up as I went along!

Cooking with wine

Taking a punt on regional food helps when you don’t know much about a wine.

Take Terreforts de Madiran 2003 (£6.50, Tesco) and Cîmes Pirenèus Madiran 2010 (currently £39 a case, which is 50% off at At the heart of most Madiran wines is the tannat grape and it is often blended with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

Tannat is high in tannins and is best with a bit of aging to soften the wines. Blackberries, tobacco and spices prevailed in both of my wines, which were blends of tannat, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

I always say cook with a wine you’d be happy to drink and I glugged a glassful of the Terreforts into a pan with cubed and seared beef, before adding stock and veg. I popped in the oven.

It could have been French rustic .. but it was my version of rustic. The wine in the glass met its match on the plate and warmed and glowed with a nod of approval.

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Published in the saturday extra magazine November 7, 2015

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