When we were kids, we often visited my mother’s family in Glasgow on Christmas Day. It was a huge adventure. All dressed up in our new party outfits we would cram into the back of my father’s Daimler and sing our way from Cockenzie in East Lothian all the way to Newton Mearns.

In those days it was the best part of a three-hour journey, depending on the weather, which in my memory was always snowy.

My grandparents’ house was, to our young eyes, very posh. She had a drive, a main door and a very large garden.

We lived, five children at this stage, in a flat on top of our ice cream shop.

I remember vividly Nonna had glass ornaments on the table in her best room. We were threatened with our lives not to go near them. (We had no ornaments. My mother’s wedding stash had been chipped or broken long before).

In pride of place was an Edinburgh Crystal bowl filled with a tempting selection of sweets. After lunch we could choose one sweet.

This was jaw dropping for us: one sweetie? We were used to pinching handfuls of sweets all day long from behind the counter.

These delicious chocolate truffles are so good that one will just do the trick after lunch.


150ml double cream

25g caster sugar

1 free range egg yolk

200g dark chocolate broken into pieces, minimum 70% cocoa solids

(Valrhona or Lindt are good)

50g unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons cognac or whisky

1 drop pure orange oil (optional)

Bitter cocoa powder to dust


Pour the cream into a medium saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.

Remove from the heat.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolk together, add to the cream and return the saucepan to the heat, stir as the mixture gently warms through.

Add the broken chocolate and continue to stir until it has melted.

Remove from the heat, beat in the butter and alcohol, and the orange oil if you are using it.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow it to cool down.

Before it gets too hard, remove from the fridge and, using two teaspoons, measure out small amounts and briskly roll into round balls, keeping your hands and work surfaces cool.

Lay on a plate and chill again until completely hard.

Roll in bitter cocoa powder to dust and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

These will last 5-6 days if no one finds out where they are.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!