So, you’ve made your sloe gin and your blackberry brandy back in the autumn and you’re now ready to bottle up the drinks to give as gifts for Christmas. But wait! Don’t throw away those berries. You could make divine festive chocolates that will leave you wanting more.
In this article we will show you two easy-to-make and indulgent recipes for our Wild Boozy Berry Chocolates which make great use of your spirit-soaked hedgerow fruits. This is one of our favourite recipes of the whole year.
These chocolates will be the talk of any Christmas gathering with friends or will make a perfect surprise flourish to round off Christmas dinner. You could even wash them down with a tot of blackberry brandy or elderberry vodka. Just remember, they’re not for kids 😉
Making Hedgerow Spirits
As outdoor educators, 2020 saw us locked down, unable to run many of our woodland courses and forced to stay close to home for the majority of the year, consequently we have been exploring our local green spaces and (like so many people) really getting further into the fascinating world of wild food and foraging. We have been preserving wild greens, cooking up foraged meals and discovering so many edible plants all around us like never before.
In the spring we were enjoying wild garlic pesto and nettle soup, in the summer it was dandelion honey and elderflower cordial. Autumn has bought us an abundance of berries and one wild food recipe that most people have heard of is sloe gin. It’s a foragers classic and if you’ve never made it for yourself, do give it a go. It’s so simple. If you want a recommend method for making this yourself, head over to the River Cottage website for a simple how-to.
The possibilities of hedgerow spirits go way beyond simply sloe gin though. We have made all sorts of recipes, using vodka, brandy, gin and whiskey. Any of the autumn berries can be used, and any mix, depending on what you have available or an experiment of different flavours together. All of these autumn foraged fruits work well; sloe, bullace, damson, haws, blackberries, rosehips and elderberries.
Waste Not, Want Not
Many people would chuck the alcohol-soaked fruits away once it’s time to strain out their hedgerow spirits, but this would be a BIG mistake. We used a whole host of hedgerow berries in our chocolates which has been gathered since summer; wild cherries, blackberries, wild raspberries, wild strawberry, sloe, bilberries, redcurrant and bullace. But you can use whatever fruits you have soaked in alcohol already.
Don’t use elderberries in your chocolates as the seeds can give you an upset stomach if eaten without cooking first. Be sure also to remove any large stones from fruits such as sloe, bullace and cherry too.
Any of the spirits will work for this recipe, but we love brandy-soaked fruit the best with chocolate. Rum would also be a good option.
Recipe 1: Boozy Berry, Fruit & Nut Chocolates
Boozy fruit – stones removed from the flesh, as needed
Hazelnuts – Roughly chopped
70% Dark Chocolate – use good quality chocolate, you won’t regret it
Icing sugar – for decoration
Recipe 2: Boozy Berry, Orange & Cinnamon Chocolates
Boozy fruit – again, remove the stones where you need to
Grated orange zest
Cinnamon powder (to taste)
70% Dark Chocolate – use the good stuff
Edible Gold Glitter Spray – for decoration
- Cut the flesh from your boozy fruit and discard any stones or inedible pips. Set the fruit aside in a bowl for now.
- Bring a small pan of water to the boil and rest another bowl over the pan to create a double-boiler. Break up the chocolate and slowly melt it in the dry pan.
- Take a clean ice-cube tray and fill each section halfway with the other ingredients; either fruit, orange zest and cinnamon or fruit and hazelnuts.
- Next, gently pour the melted chocolate into each section of the ice tray until the ingredients are well covered.
- Place the tray in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow them to set.
- Push chocolates out of the tray and for a little sparkle you can either dust some icing sugar over them or give them a splash of edible gold spray.
- Lastly, eat them and be merry!
Discover More Wild Food
If all this talk of wild food and foraging has whetted your appetite then you can take your learning further with us through the range of courses we offer.
You can immerse yourself in the world of foraging through our outdoor courses hosted in beautiful National Trust estate woodlands in North-East Wales. Or if that’s too far afield for you we also host regular online workshops, live through Zoom where we focus on wild foods of the season and give you delicious recipe ideas, foraging tips and expertise from special guest speakers. If this all sounds interesting, check out what’s coming up on our Events page right here.
Another way to get instant access to a whole backlog of wild food & foraging videos, recipes and recorded workshops is to join our Tribe over on Patreon. In return for supporting our mission, our patrons get access loads of exclusive resources. You can join the Tribe from as little as £3.60 per month. Find out about all the benefits right here.
Until next time, good luck with your own foraging journey.