Tag Archives: cinnamon sticks

Christmas Sweet Chestnut Soup – a.k.a. Imbuljuta

Imbuljuta-(6479)

As I write this I’m looking outside of my window and I can just barely see Guildford Cathedral peeping back at me. The fog is quite thick this morning but I am looking forward to some sun perhaps this afternoon. Well, hopefully anyway. This kind of weather brings anticipation for the festivities which are yet to come. I have to say that I prefer all the prep than the actual Christmas week itself. The cooking and baking is fun and in many ways comforting. This is an easy but delicious recipe to get you, and me started. I have been getting some questions on this traditional Maltese recipe, and here is my latest version which really works for me.

Imbuljuta (pronounced something like: Im-bul-yu-ta) is one of my very favourite things to eat. For me, it is the essence of Christmas. It also takes me back to my childhood and it revives the excitement that the season should bring. It used to be served and shared after midnight mass; unfortunately nowadays plain hot chocolate is served instead. Pity.

I apologise for having just one photo here, but I hope to include more in the coming weeks. Unfortunately I cannot find dried chestnuts in my neck of the woods, so I’ll have to wait until the next batch from Malta comes through!

  • 250g dried chestnuts
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate, please)
  • 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole tangerine peel (There’s no need to cut this into pieces.)
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 500ml water
  • 50g dark chocolate, cut into chunks

Give the chestnuts a good rinse under water, discard any that seem off. Place the rest in a large bowl, cover them with a fresh batch of cold water and leave to soak overnight.

The next morning they will be ready to be cooked, but first remove any brown skin that remained attached to the chestnuts. Drain, put them in a heavy-based pan and cover with them with 500ml of cold water. Switch on the heat to medium and let them cook until they are tender, for I would say, around 40 minutes or so.

Add the cocoa powder, caster sugar, cinnamon stick, tangerine peel, cloves and dark chocolate. Give everything a stir and let the ingredients come together and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or so. Now it’s ready to be scooped into your favourite mug! This is gooey and rich so be careful! Serve hot. But boy, it’s good! Enjoy!

Rob x

J’s recipe for Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine (6691)

Spring has not quite arrived in the UK. I’m not going to say anything else about this – I’m really afraid I might jinx it, but I must post this before the weather becomes warmer. Two weeks ago it snowed here. OK. Stop. But in case you’re wondering, that’s why we’re still drinking mulled wine in April.

In general I think it’s best to go for a fruity full-bodied red, but this depends on personal taste. If you like to drink the wine you choose on its own, then you will like it when it’s mulled. This is J’s simple recipe which always worked for us. The roles were reversed this time: he was by the stove, I was taking the photos. Except the one with the glasses. (Was going to forget that! He wouldn’t have minded but I said it for the sake of completeness.) I don’t really need to say this but If you’re in Malta, forget about this until December!

Preparing Mulled Wine (6684)

We started to use this recipe with these quantities while in Michigan; that’s why I have also given cup measures. The equivalent ml measures are an approximation, but still valid. A slight variation will not make much of a difference here.

  • 2 cups/500ml water
  • ½ cup/100g caster sugar
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 small star anise
  • 2 large oranges, cut in slices
  • 1 bottle of red wine

Place the water, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise in a deep pot, on medium heat, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat. Steep the sliced oranges into the syrup mixture for around 15 minutes. Pour in 1 bottle of red wine (the deeper, the better).

Reheat the wine and fruity syrup mixture, but do not boil. Strain the wine, using a sieve and serve hot.

Preparing Mulled Wine (6686)

Preparing Mulled Wine (6689)

The recipe is here, ready for the cold weather, whenever that hits you! You guys in Oz – are you next? Enjoy.

Rob x