Mark Hix makes Christmas sweets

Chocolate-dipped walnuts

Makes 48 pieces

These are the perfect gift, either on their own or as part of a foodie hamper. You can do a mixture of nuts if you wish, using almonds and hazelnuts as well. Make sure you buy really good cocoa powder, as it will make all the difference.


200g good-quality dark chocolate
60-70g good-quality cocoa powder
150g good-quality shelled walnuts or about 24 in the shell


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Put the chocolate into a clean, dry bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring every so often until melted. Put the cocoa powder into a shallow tray, and have a spare tray ready. Dip the walnuts into the chocolate a few at a time, then remove with a fork, tapping it on the side of the bowl to let the excess chocolate drain back into the bowl.

Drop the walnuts into the cocoa, turning with a clean fork and shaking the tray so they’re well coated, then turn them out onto the clean tray. Continue with the rest of the walnuts, then store them in an airtight container in a cool place.

Candied Chilli Grapefruit

Serves 8-10

I have some friends who are real chilli lovers, and this started off as a bit of an experiment using up some grapefruit shells after a late Sunday brunch with them. You can use grapefruit or orange, or a mixture of the two.


The skins from about 4 grapefruits
500g preserving or granulated sugar
2-3tsp dried chilli flakes
About 200g granulated sugar for coating


Quarter the grapefruit halves if you’ve used them for juicing, and cut away any flesh and discard it, so you’re left with just the skin and pith. Cut them into long strips about 1cm wide and put in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil, then drain. Do this once more, then put them back in the saucepan with the preserving sugar and chilli and cover them with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer on a medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring every so often until the syrup is thick. Drain in a colander over a bowl for about 30 minutes, stirring the grapefruit so that all of the syrup has drained off. Save the syrup for your next batch, or as a savoury-sweet drizzle for pancakes. Lay the pieces of grapefruit on a cake rack and leave them to dry out at room temperature for three or four days, then roll them in the granulated sugar and store in an airtight container.

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