OK, so firstly I have to apologize for being a bit irregular in my posts. The last few weeks have been hectic and stressful for a number of reasons. But December is here now... And that means gearing up for Christmas!
Christmas for me means many things- friends & family, sharing & giving, fun, laughter, joy and delicious goodies! For me, a really important part of Christmas are the traditional (and yummy) sweets that the family makes. Sweet making is a huge family tradition, with some of the recipes being passed down over several generations. And they all taste so good!
Now I have to admit that usually sweet making for me has always involved watching my mum making the sweets and then eating a lot of them! That's because Christmas is always with my folks, back in Baroda. This year however we are here (in Gurgaon) for Christmas, so it will be me doing all the sweet making, much to the amusement of my mum!
I started the sweet making process a little early this year, just in case my first attempts at sweet making were a disaster! (at least there would be time for me to have another go) So the first thing I made is something we call Jujups, a sugar coated jelly candy that's a little softer than jelly beans, and a lot bigger in size. Now if I were to be really honest, I am not a big fan. But it is a family favorite- my mum loves it and so does the hubby and its part of Christmas tradition.
Aren't they pretty?
All green & red & Christmassy!
A kid's delight...
And something that makes a lot of grown ups act like
gleeful little kids :)
This is my mum's recipe, one she has been using for years. And now it's mine too! A recipe that is part of Christmas tradition, and one that I hope to hand down to my kids one day. That's another thing about X'mas- tradition and that sense of connection you get from being part of a tradition. Its a really special feeling.
Warning- Attempt this recipe only if you really love to cook and are a little bit crazy! Although the recipe is pretty straight forward, and doesn't need a lot of fancy ingredients, it's quite a pain to make. It involves a lot of standing around and stirring till you achieve just the right consistency, and then the process of cutting and sugar coating is very messy! But the end result was pretty wonderful- jujups my mum would be proud of!
My mum's Jujup recipe
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup + 2 cups water
butter for greasing
lots of castor sugar
a brownie tray or a thali
I made two batches- peppermint & strawberry
Grease a brownie tray or a thali with butter.
In a bowl, mix the lemon juice with 1/2 up of water and sprinkle the gelatin over this. Mix it together and set aside for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes dissolve sugar with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over low heat. Once the sugar dissolves, raise heat and bring to boil. Boil for about a minute and then once again lower the heat. By now the gelatin mixture will be quite firm and solid. Carefully add this to the sugar syrup and stir until all the gelatin has dissolved. Raise the heat and boil for 30 minutes. You will need to carefully watch the the mixture as it boils. Stir it regularly so that it doesn't overflow. After 30 minutes you will notice that a thickish string will start to form when a spoon dipped into the syrup is raised. Some of it will still cling onto the spoon. If it doesn't keep boiling till this happens.
Once the string forms, add the flavoring and the color. You will need to do this by taste since the strength of flavorings vary. Be careful when you taste, the syrup is VERY hot. So to taste, drop some syrup onto a cool plate and allow to cool slightly before tasting.
Once color and flavor is added, boil for about 15 mins. Pour into the greased tray (the jelly mixture should be at least 12mm deep) and cool for at least 24 hours. I cooled mine for 26 hours under a low speed ceiling fan.
Once the jelly is set (after 24 hours), run a very sharp knife around the edges of the tray. Keep a large plate of castor sugar ready. My mum managed to un-mold the entire jelly unto the castor sugar. I was nervous about doing this so I cut out about 20-25mm strips then proceeded to coat them in castor sugar. Then you need to cut each strip into cubes of about 25mm x 25mm and coat the sticky edges with more castor sugar.
Once you have done this to the entire solidified jelly strips, leave in the castor sugar overnight. They will firm up some more. Then pack them in an airtight container lined with parchment paper and they should be fine till Christmas.
psst! A little word of advice, hide the box somewhere safe, especially if you have little elves that may slyly eat them when no one's looking, or they may be gone before X'mas!
What X'mas goodies are you making? Would love to know!
[All images- Shalini Pereira]