Gill Books - Reading Matters



Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas: Festive Tipples

21-12-2016 11:03

The Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas celebrates the festive season with twelve feasts featuring recipes from our wonderful authors. Recipes that will impress the visitors, sustain you, make the children smile, help you survive after overindulgence, celebrate in style and most importantly, taste delicious. Toast the party season with these festive tipples that will warm your Christmas spirit!


Brother Hubbard’s hot chocolate


Discover a new way of eating and drinking with The Brother Hubbard Cookbook fresh, pure flavours dedicated to sharing and happiness.

When the barista chatted to the baker, this is what we ended up with!

A casual chat between myself and our dear barista, Bruno, led to this meeting of minds – a really rich hot chocolate that actually tastes of chocolate. We serve this in a deconstructed fashion in the cafes. Not only is it more fun, but it also allows you to control how chocolatey or milky you like yours to be. We’ve noticed that orders tend to come in clusters – once one person orders it, those seated nearby inevitably order it too.



For the ganache:

50ml single cream
50g good-quality chocolate (ideally at least 55% cocoa solids)
For the milk:
300ml milk
2 heaped tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp dark brown sugar
pinch of salt (optional)

Make your ganache by heating the cream almost to the boiling point in a little saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring well to make sure it’s fully melted. You should have a rich, smooth ganache. Set aside.

Put your milk in a separate pot and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and remove from the heat just as it’s coming to the boil.
To serve, warm your mugs with hot water first. Put in a generous amount of the ganache – about 2 tablespoons in each mug – and top up with the hot cocoa milk. Stir well and taste, adding more chocolate or a little more sugar until it’s perfect for you.

If you’re making this for a few people, heat up a jug and fill it with the ganache. Add the cocoa milk to another large heated jug and then allow people to make the hot chocolate themselves in their own warm mugs.


To make this into a mocha with an added caffeine kick, add one or two shots of espresso to the ganache in each mug and stir well before adding the hot cocoa milk.

Festive hot chocolate

At Christmastime, we make this festive by adding a little ground nutmeg and cinnamon (and a touch of ground cloves too if desired) along with the cocoa in the milk. We serve finely ground praline on the side for people to sprinkle over their drink when it’s made – it’s best enjoyed by eating it with a spoon off the top before it sinks!) See below for our praline recipe.



We are sticklers for the mugs and jugs being warm! The milk should be piping hot to compensate for the ganache being a little cooler.

For extra frothy hot chocolate at home, bring your cocoa sugar- milk mix almost to the boil, then pour into a warmed clean French press (cafetiere). Push the filter up and down very rapidly to foam the milk. Do this vigorously for about a minute, then proceed with bringing the drink together as outlined above.

The chocolate ganache itself will happily keep in the fridge for several weeks – the cream is cooked, so it won’t spoil as quickly. You’ll need to soften it up to use, however, with a quick visit to the microwave or in a saucepan set over a gentle heat.

My dear James insists a pinch of salt added to the milk makes all the difference, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

Hazelnut praline

Praline is essentially a toasted nut and caramelised sugar brittle that is ground and used as a sprinkle. It’s one of those handy store cupboard items that can spruce up any number of sweet dishes. We use this for our semolina pancakes (page 38) and as a brownie topping, adding a spoonful of melted chocolate on top of a brownie and sprinkling some praline over with a heavy hand. Serve this with our hot chocolate at Christmas and it’s perfect for sprinkling over chocolate or vanilla ice cream.


100g hazelnuts or nuts of your choice

200g caster sugar

If the nuts have their skins on, it’s best that they are removed as they can add too much of a bitter taste to a recipe. To do this, simply spread them on a baking tray and roast in a hot oven (200°C) for 8–10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool a little. The easiest way to remove the skins is to place the nuts in a clean tea towel and give them a shake and a rub through the towel, then pick out the skinned nuts.


To make the caramel base for the praline, I like to use a non-stick pan as it’s easier to clean up later. Place the caster sugar in the pan and place it on a medium heat to melt. Try not to stir the sugar, as it will only cover your spoon in hot caramel, which is quite hard to clean. Please also be aware that you are working with an extremely hot substance as the sugar heats, so be very careful not to get any on your clothes or skin. I find the best way to make a caramel is to gently move and swirl the pan as the sugar is turning into a liquid. The end product should be a golden honey brown, if not a touch deeper in colour than that, and all the sugar should be fully dissolved and liquid. Be patient and keep at it until this stage is reached.

When you do reach this stage, add the nuts and swirl the pan until the nuts are all coated in the caramel.

The next step is to place a piece of non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat flat on your work surface or on a large baking tray. Pour the nut-caramel mix directly onto the sheet in an even and uniform layer. You want it to spread out, but make sure it doesn’t pour off the sides.
Now simply leave it to cool completely and harden.

To finish, blitz it in a food processor and use it to sprinkle on top of your favourite desserts. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for up to 1 month.



Try this recipe using other nuts: walnuts, pistachios or almonds would all be particularly good. Leaving the skins on the almonds works well for me, but do roast them first, like you do with the hazelnuts in the above recipe.

Make this into a spread of sorts by continuing to blitz the praline until a paste is formed, perhaps adding a tablespoon or two of honey while it’s blending. This would be sensational as a cake filling, a topping on a brownie or just smeared over a plain biscuit.


Irish Country Women’s Association Mulled Wine


The ICA Book of Christmas lets you in on secrets and tips that have been passed down and perfected through generations of Irish families. Find traditional recipes for festive feasts, advice for ‘the big shop’ and buying the tree, techniques for homemade cards and gifts, and shortcuts to get your home ready for the festive season.

Patricia Cavanagh, Ballinode Guild, Monaghan

Each year since the new millennium, on the Sunday before Christmas, my local walking club in Knockatallon on the Monaghan–Tyrone border meet up with the Clogher Valley walkers. Our annual ‘mulled wine walk’ takes us up to Knockmany Cairn, an ancient passage grave situated on a high hilltop. There we sing carols and share flasks of mulled wine with homemade mince pies and shortbread.

Serves 12–15

1 lemon, unwaxed if possible
1 large orange, or two mandarin oranges
4 dozen cloves, approx.
2 sticks cinnamon
2–3 star anise (optional)
1 bottle red wine
½ bottle ruby port

To garnish

thin slices of orange and lemon

sprinkling of grated nutmeg (optional)


Pare the lemon and the orange (or mandarins) thinly and remove the pith.

Stud the peeled fruit all over with cloves, and add to a large saucepan with 570ml (1 pint) water. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and star anise, if using. If you are using unwaxed lemons or oranges, you can add the peel too.

Stir over heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for about an hour to give the flavours time to combine. (Even better, you can prepare this a day in advance to really give the flavours a chance to blend, and simply reheat it before the next step.)

Strain and discard the fruit and spices. Return the infused liquid to the saucepan and add the red wine and port. Reheat to bring almost to the boil.


Serve hot with orange and lemon slices and a sprinkling of nutmeg if desired.


Prosecco, Lemon Balm and Blueberry Jellies


A Taste of Home is a food story from Ballyknocken House, nestled in the gentle rolling hills of County Wicklow, where generations of Catherine Fulvio’s family have lived and farmed for over 100 years. Combining modern Irish food with farm-to-fork principles, Catherine takes on traditional recipes and gives them her own twist to reflect the abundance of ingredients available on her doorstep.


There is something so elegant and light about this over-eighteens fruit jelly – it’s particularly suitable after a rich main course. Place 6 small glasses on a tray in the fridge to chill.


350ml Prosecco
4 tbsp sugar
3 large sprigs lemon balm
4 leaves gelatine
150ml cold water, to soften the gelatine
100g blueberries, washed
6 small sprigs of lemon balm, to decorate


Heat 150ml of the Prosecco, the sugar and lemon balm sprigs in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar has melted. Remove the lemon balm sprigs.

Place the gelatine leaves in the cold water and leave to soften. Once softened, squeeze out the excess water, then add the leaves to the warm Prosecco and whisk well until melted. Pour into a jug and add the remaining 200ml Prosecco. Refrigerate and stir frequently until the mix just begins to set (about 1 hour) – this will stop the fruit from floating to the top.

Divide the blueberries between the 6 chilled glasses and pour over the partially set jelly mixture. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

To serve, place a sprig of lemon balm on the edge of each glass and serve on a plate with a long teaspoon and some delicate Amaretti biscuits.


We hope that you found some inspiration for your festive tipples! Happy feasting to you and yours, stay tuned for more fantastically festive recipes. Follow us @GillBooks on Twitter, @gillbooks on Instagram and like us on Facebook for the latest author news.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Comment on this article




A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a creative, confident and talented Publicity and Sales Executive to create and execute publicity campaigns for a wide variety of titles, and to deliver sales via a number of key channels. As such, you will ... Read More >


© 2018 M.H. Gill & Co. Unlimited Company