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  1. This is my second attempt at making slow cooker fudge and it’s sooo good!  I want to make some bags up for Christmas presents so I thought I’d make some beforehand to test the flavours and share with anyone else who wants to have a go.
    The chocolate you use is quite important.  First time round I bought Dairymilk thinking I had to get the best but actually it’s better to buy cheap supermarket chocolate.  For this recipe I used Lidl’s own which was much cheaper and in my opinion tasted better.  The idea for a simple recipe is to have 500g of chocolate so I used 4 bars of milk chocolate and then one bar of the finest dark chocolate.

    Slow Cooker temperatures vary greatly so unfortunately it’s not possible to give an exact time but you’ll be looking at approximately 90 minutes from start to finish. 

    400g milk chocolate
    100g dark chocolate
    Can of Carnation condensed milk
    20g unsalted butter cubed
    70g raisins
    60g glace cherries chopped
    50g blanched almonds chopped
    1 teaspoon mixed spice
    40ml Brandy (optional)
    Christmas Fudge Recipe 1
    Start by getting the slow cooker on high and leave the lid off the whole way through.  I didn’t do this the first time and the condensation made my chocolate seize up.  Luckily it was saved by a good beating but I was honestly close to throwing it all in the bin. 

    Break up the chocolate and throw it in, add the butter and whole can of Carnation condensed milk.  You’ll need to stir it quite often until it all melts.  Use a metal spoon or plastic spatula as wooden spoons can absorb moisture.  Once it has all melted you need to turn the slow cooker down to low and go to stirring it every 10 - 15 minutes.  It was at this point that I added the brandy but you could add any other flavouring if you wish.
    The fudge will at some point develop a ‘crust’ and you need this to happen twice before it’s done.  The definition of the crust is when it looks a bit wrinkly on top and comes away from the edge slightly.  When you see it the first time, stir like a crazy person to make it all lovely and smooth and then keep stirring every 10 - 15 minutes until you see it the second time.  Once this has happened you just need to stir in your fruit, nuts and spice and get it in your tray asap.

    I used a long tray and lined it with cling film so it’s easy to get out and decorated the top with gold sugar sprinkles to make it look more Christmassy.  Get it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight and then it’ll be perfect for cutting.

    I like to make my pieces bite sized and got about 80 pieces out of my batch.  A good 10 pieces fell in my mouth and the rest was put into bags for family and friends to taste test for me.  So far, the reports back have been very positive.
    Christmas Fudge Recipe 2

    The possibilities of flavourings are endless!  I’ll be making more of this for Christmas gifts and after that I want to have a go at chocolate orange, rocky road and mint chocolate.  Other ideas include ginger, Turkish delight, coconut, salted caramel, crunchie and brightly coloured unicorn fudge.

    Please don’t for one minute think I am an expert on this.  There will be a lot of trial and error I’m sure but the things I have learnt is that too much liquid will affect the density, if the chocolate seizes up it can be saved and sprinkles on top look fab.

    Silicone trays and moulds are great fun too and I’m sure they’d make a perfect gift for Christmas and Birthdays.

    The ingredients above are what I used and give the fudge a slight brandy and spice taste but you can add more if you want it to have a stronger flavour.

    My total cooking time was about 100 minutes but slow cookers run at different tempurates so it’s advisable for you to keep a note pad and pen nearby so you’ll know your timings for next time.
    Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in a fridge (if you don’t eat it all) and up to 3 months in the freezer.
    Have fun!
  2. Bournemouth has really pulled out all the stops this year with a magical Christmas Tree Wonderland Trail which has over 100 trees and amazing illuminations plus there’s the SKATE ice rink and Moguls Bar, the Alpine Market and Lodge Bar and Santa’s Grotto.

    Christmas Tree Wonderland 18

    We arrived in Bournemouth mid afternoon and went straight into Moguls Alpine Bar to enjoy a deliciously warming and sweet hot chocolate which came with lashings of cream and chocolate goodies on top.  We took our drinks over to the log burner and soaked up the festive atmosphere whilst watching the ice skaters and working out our agenda for the next few hours. 

    Christmas Tree Wonderland 3

    We were pre booked into Santa’s Grotto and our son and daughter were beyond excited.  When we arrived at our allotted time we were all greeted by a lovely lady elf who took us along a walkway and then inside a beautifully decorated room with huge wrapped sweets, gingerbread men and festive decoration. 

    BeFunky Christmas Tree Wonderland 1

    She talked to our son Sam for a while about Christmas presents and being good whilst our daughter Lucy stood back taking it all in.  Then out of nowhere a very excited elf popped up and asked the children if they were ready to see Father Christmas and we were led into the Grotto which was warmly lit and beautifully furnished.  I desperately wanted to chuck the kids out the way and jump on Santa’s lap, but then I remembered I was the parent and composed myself haha.  Sam stood for a second until Father Christmas invited him to sit down which he did without hesitation.  Our daughter is always a little shy and clung to Daddy for dear life but still listened intently to everything. 

    Father Christmas was really lovely and instantly likable which I was pleased about as we've seen a few bad one's.  Firstly he mixed up the kids names which my son thought was hilarious and then as they were talking about the naughty and nice list he asked Sam if his Mummy ever nags him about anything?  Sam straight away told him that I’m always moaning about his messy room and then Father Christmas told him a story about me when I was a little girl and that he would come to bring my present but my room was always so untidy!  Sam thought this was absolutely brilliant and I loved the fact that us parents were involved when we’re often ignored.  

    He then asked Sam what we will put out on Christmas Eve and when Sam said he’d put a carrot out for Rudolph he told us that he’s sick of them and that we must put out chocolate instead.  He then told Sam that he’ll bet it’ll be gone in the morning and gave me a little nod haha.  Before we left we had a group photo together and then Father Christmas gave the children their gift which they thanked him for.

    Outside the Grotto in other room we were told that we would receive a photo of our visit and I instantly adored the group photo that was taken.  They were quite a few other great photos which we could of purchased if we wished but we were really happy with the one we had.

    Christmas Tree Wonderland 36

    Santa’s Grotto far exceeded my expectations, everyone was really friendly and professional, the décor made you feel like you were stepping into a real Grotto and the children’s presents were far from cheap. 

    The children were desperate to open their gifts and Sam was delighted to receive a Flick to Stick Bungee game and little Lucy had a Micky Mouse and Finding Nemo book.  It was just starting to drizzle so we waved goodbyes to the elves and went to the Alpine Market to grab some dinner and find shelter.  Luckily for us we were allowed to purchase food from the Market and take it into the Alpine Lodge and whilst I went to get the kids food the gang made themselves comfy in a fun bauble seating area.  I bought bratwurst in a roll for us and my husband had a dish with salted beef, seasoned roast potatoes and raclette grilled cheese which he said was out of this world. 

    By now it was dark and with our tummies full we went back into the Lower Gardens to look at all the huge Christmas trees.  You can’t miss the biggest one which has a tunnel you can walk through.  The lights on this tree change colour and later on in the evening we also found out that it sings and flashes to the sounds! 

    Christmas Tree Wonderland 10

    It took us ages to walk from here to the Pier as the kids had to run up to each and every tree and decoration.  Lucy adored the pink Barbie tree and Sam stood for ages watching the flickering lights flowing over the rocks by the Pavilion.

    BeFunky Christmas Tree Wonderland 2

    When we got to the Pier we told the children we would be going up in the Bournemouth Wheel and to my surprize the big one was nervous and the little one was thrilled.  We took some great photos in the Snowman and Father Christmas before queuing to go on.

    BeFunky Christmas Tree Wonderland 3

    The views from the top are quite specular, but I won’t lie, I was holding on pretty tight!  We saw all the trees lit up in the gardens and after a couple of trips around and around we got off and went back in the gardens for one last stroll before taking 2 very tired and happy children home.

    Christmas Tree Wonderland 9

    I would definitely recommend a trip into Bournemouth while all the festivities are going on.  There‘s a huge line up of entertainment at the Alpine Bar and in the streets.  Full details of events, Christmas Tree locations and Santa’s Grotto can be found on Christmas Tree Wonderland.

    BeFunky Christmas Tree Wonderland 4

    Whilst we didn’t visit SKATE on this occasion, we did go back for my birthday in January.  We had such a wonderful hour in the sunshine and the kids loved whizzing around on their skate aids.  I actually really appreciated them too as I was useless moving without having an aid to support me haha.

    Ice skating Dec18 1