looking for inspiration - a birthday gift
Just found out a co-worker's birthday is today. I would like to make her something for tomorrow, but for various reasons would rather something she could take home and enjoy at her leisure, rather than a birthday cake. Would prefer something fairly shelf-or fridge stable, since she wouldn't be sharing with a lot of people, and want something sophisticated - she's a glamour-girl. She also gave me a beyond-generous Christmas present I didn't expect at all, so I would like to give her something particularly nice. If I had had notice, I would have made her some truffles in fancy-pants flavors (Mexican chocolate, Earl Grey, ginger, etc.) but with having to chill the ganache and so forth, I don't think I can manage that by tomorrow. I could definitely pick up some nice chocolate and dried fruits and dip the latter into the former, but maybe someone else has a suggestion for something a bit more unusual?
You can actually make Alton Brown's truffle recipe all in one night (I did), and the results are pretty good.
What about fudge sauce in those cool flavors? Or flavored simple syrups? These could be used to gourmet-ize any number of other things, and wouldn't go bad. Or a pot of lemon curd, or some sort of caramel.
I also love getting nuts, like the rosemary ones, or the sweet/hot type, or regular sugared. It's definitely something I don't usually buy for myself (unlike chocolate).
The Barefoot Contessa (check foodtv) has a really rich and fabulous brownie recipe (dark & white chips I believe). It is so rich that I cut them in 1/2" squares and call them brownie bites--really good!
If she is a glamour girl, you could always make her some all-natural facial masks/scrubs, etc. :)
If you're looking for something more tasty (while the all-natural facial masks may be edible, I'm not sure how they would taste!), perhaps a homemade blend of tea (take some black tea leaves and add dehydrated lemon zest and lavender flowers - use your imagination here, the possibilities are endless). You can accompany the tea with some shortbread cookies and she has a perfect little set up for afternoon tea.
Or, a jar of homemade pesto, package of homemade pasta, and a bottle of wine for a complete simple meal.
A bottle of homemade herbed olive oil (garlic and rosemary, and lemon zest and thyme are some of my faves), nice balsamic vinegar, and a block of aged parmesan.
Anyway, hope that helps...