Carol's Gin Kitchen: Christmas Edition

Our resident gin chef, club member Carol Donner, whips up some delicious morsels inspired by this month’s box contents – and perfect for entertaining a crowd this festive season.

Arbikie Cured Salmon

Arbikie Cured Salmon canapes

This recipe combines the earthy aromatics of the botanicals in Arbikie AK’s Gin with another of Scotland’s famous products, salmon. It is so very simple and delicious, and makes a refreshing change from smoked salmon. 

If you can’t find black cardamom, then it’s fine to leave it out – but don’t tempted to replace with green cardamom, which tastes completely different. 

The recipe makes a large amount and goes a long way, so cut quantities in half if desired. It does, however, freeze well for up to three months.

My favourite way of eating this salmon is on dark rye bread with a dollop of mustard sauce, a sprig of fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

For the salmon:
•    Approx 1kg fresh salmon fillet in one piece. Skinned and pin boned.
•    2tbsp coarse ground sea salt
•    2tbsp sugar
•    1tbsp black peppercorns
•    2tsp juniper berries
•    Seeds from 4 black cardamom pods (do not use green ones)
•    1/2tsp ground mace
•    Zest of 1 lemon
•    6tbsp Arbikie AK’s Gin
•    2tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
•    Dark rye bread to serve

For the mustard sauce:
•    2 heaped tbsp good quality mayonnaise
•    2 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
•    1tsp sugar
•    1tsp lemon juice
•    2tsp Arbikie AK’s Gin
•    2tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
•    Freshly ground black pepper


To make the salmon:

Trim salmon into a neat rectangle (trimmings can be frozen and used in pasta or other dishes later). Cut the rectangle lengthways to produce 2 identically sized pieces.

Grind salt, sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, cardamom seeds and mace, in a pestle and mortar or spice mill. Add lemon zest and gin to make a paste.

Take a piece of cling film big enough to wrap the fish in, spread a little of the paste along the centre, sprinkle with dill and place one piece of salmon on top. Spread top of salmon with more paste and dill, then place second piece of salmon on top. 

Spread remaining paste and dill on top of second piece of salmon then wrap tightly in the cling film. Double wrap in another layer of cling film, put in the fridge on a plate with a weight on top. Leave for 48 to 72 hours, turning once.

At end of curing period, carefully unwrap salmon and drain off any liquid. Pat dry with paper towels before slicing very thinly.

To make the mustard sauce:

Put mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and juice, gin and dill in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and add black pepper to taste. This sauce will keep covered in the fridge for a week.

To serve:

Cut circles from dark rye bread, top with a spoon of mustard sauce, thinly sliced salmon, a sprig of fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice. Delicious with an Arbikie AK’s gin and tonic!

Duo of chocolate gin-robed cherries

Duo of chocolate gin robed luxardo cherries for christmas

I was delighted to see the unctuous, rich, dark Luxardo maraschino cherries in this month’s box. Something had to be done other than just popping the cherries into a cocktail, and here goes.

These homemade chocolates make perfect gifts, and as they don’t contain any fresh cream they will keep for many weeks. Use the best quality chocolate you can find as it makes a real difference, and such exquisite cherries are deserving of the very best. 

The dark fondant cherries do require an element of skill, patience and elbow grease to work the fondant, but the result is well worth it. The fondant is sweet and so only make these with dark chocolate.

The white chocolate cherries are so very simple. You could use dark chocolate instead of white, or make a mix of both.

For the dark fondant cherries:
24 maraschino cherries, drained
3tbsp Arbikie AK’s Gin
340g caster sugar
80ml water
1tbsp liquid glucose
200g dark chocolate


Place the drained cherries in a bowl and add the gin. Leave overnight.

Next day mix sugar, water and liquid glucose in a small pan. Drain gin from cherries and add 4tbsp to the sugar and water mix. If you do not have enough gin, top up with syrup from the jar of cherries. Stir mixture over a medium heat until all sugar has dissolved.

Increase heat and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until temperature reaches 120C. Turn off heat and pour syrup into a large, shallow baking tin or onto a large marble slab. Allow to cool for 10 mins then with a large metal scraper (the sort you would use to spread buttercream on a cake), repeatedly fold the fondant onto itself, over and over again, until thick and opaque. This is hard work and can take 10-15 minutes but persevere!

When thick and opaque return fondant to the pan and heat gently until melted. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and add the drained cherries. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove each cherry with a fork, and allow to set for 10 mins on baking parchment or a silicon sheet (cherries will not look perfectly smooth and there will only be a thin coating of fondant)

While cherries are setting break up chocolate and place in a plastic bowl

Put in microwave on high for 15 second bursts until melted, stirring in between each burst. Plastic bowls are best to melt chocolate as they do not retain heat and so the chocolate does not continue to heat.

Using two forks quickly roll each cherry into chocolate, then pop onto baking parchment to set.

Once set, spray with edible shimmer. I use red but gold or silver will look as good (available online or from cake decorating suppliers). Allow to ‘dry’ overnight before enjoying!

For the white chocolate cherries:
15 maraschino cherries, drained
2tbsp Arbikie AK’s gin
250g white chocolate

You will also need a silicon chocolate mould for 15 chocolates. These are inexpensive and available online or from any good hobby store.


Soak the cherries overnight in gin and drain well. Pat dry on kitchen paper.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Fill each mould one third with white chocolate. Tap the mould on the worktop to level the chocolate and remove any air bubbles. Pop into the fridge until almost set.

Press one cherry lightly into the chocolate in each mould, then cover with more melted chocolate. Tap to level the moulds and pop into fridge until fully set. 

Remove chocolates from mould and finish by dusting each with some lustre dust (also available online or from hobby stores).