Maltese Christmas Log

Maltese Christmas logs are yummy. Maltese Christmas logs are fab. And store-bought is never as good as homemade. Which is why my family went mental when I broke up with a guy, whose mum was an excellent nut crusher, They nagged me time and time again to come up with a suitable replacement. It being my first Christmas without a design review around the corner, I decided to give it a go and I'm proud too say that the first results weren't too shabby.

You will notice that the following recipe is nothing like the French Yule Log. The Maltese version uses Mediterranean ingredients which are similar to that of the traditional figolla, another annual holiday treat.

So, you will be needing:

A free evening 2 packets of 'Morning Coffee' biscuits 1 can of sweetened condensed milk 200g (7 oz) of pulverised almonds 200g (7 oz) of crushed hazelnuts and walnuts 1 shot of whisky 1 shot of cherry brandy 1 bar of dark cooking chocolate Chocolate covered sticks A sprinkling of icing sugar Grey baking (tracing) paper

If you're alone in the kitchen, it will help to spread out an A3 size of tracing paper on the kitchen counter and pour the shots into a glass. Just trust me on this one.

Cracking open and crushing the nuts is probably the most time-consuming part. However, you can prop yourself and a large bowl in front of the Tv for this process because it requires absolutely no mental activity. Or get your kids to do it. Spoons will come in handy when crushing the hazelnuts, but don't try to pulverise the little buggers. Quarters are fine. When you're done start mashing in the biscuits using your hands. Mix it all up, pour the almonds into the mixture along with half the can of milk. Keep mashing with your hands - it will get messy at this point - and pour in the rest of the milk slowly, as you feel the mixture drying. The mixture will feel wet but lumpy - sort of like a cookie dough. Finally, introduce the alcohol.

It is now time to form a log on top of the tracing paper. Once this is done, you can wash your hands and wrap the paper around the log so that it is completely covered. A tight wrapping will help to form the shape and allow the log to harden properly. Leave the log to refrigerate for thirty minutes. After a couple of shots of cherry brandy, you can start melting the chocolate bar. This can be done by breaking the bar into smaller chunks, adding a couple of tablespoons of water and gently heating in a small pan on a gentle fire. The better method is to put all the crushed pieces of chocolate in a thick, heat resistant bowl, fill a small pot with water and place the bowl in the pot. This is known as the Banju Marija method.

Open up your Christmas log and slather it with the melted chocolate. You can remove the extra tracing paper around the bottom using kitchen scissors. A form or a fork, flat against the log, will be helpful in creating a rough grainy texture - this is a bark after all. Chocolate sticks sprouting from the log at an angle can also be covered, for an even finish, to imitate little branches. Once complete, return the log to the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Sprinkle with icing sugar, add a mistletoe leaf or two and serve in thin (10-15mm) slices. I'm sure you'll love it.