Homemade Christmas gifts
I'm looking for some original ideas for gifts this year, beyond the typical layered cookies/cake/cocoa jars...
I am going to do some seasoning mixes, and maybe some scrubs/body butter, but thought you all would have better and more unique ideas! Something with more than a one time use would be ideal, but I look forward to all ideas and suggestions! I am the "foodie" of the family (so they say!), and it would be nice to show off a bit ;)
i just don't have the time to do my usual shortbread, so i'm doing something called chocolate salami. it's a truffle like mixture (dark chocolate, heavy cream and butter) with nuts, dried fruit and something crunchy (i'm using hazelnuts, dried cherries, chopped biscotti and some orange zest).
after it sets up, form into logs and fully chill. some recipes suggest rolling in confectioners sugar to mimic the rind on salami. i've just cut it into 1/4-inch slices and put it into festive cellophane bags tied with ribbon. holds well at room temp.
I don't know if you can get this together by Christmas, but there's always next year. First, flavored vinegars: bring vinegar to a boil and add your choice of herbs or fruit, place in covered jar and let steep until you like the flavor, strain and bottle for giving. We are particularly fond of blueberry and blackberry flavors. We also prefer cider vinegar, but any will work. Next try fruit cordials: put medium quality vodka and fruit in a jar. We use a 5 gallon jar and fill it half way with crushed fruit and top with vodka. Again, blackberry and blueberry are great. We did a pear this year with anise and ginger root pieces. Once the vodka has steeped for a few weeks, strain and mix 1/2 vodka and 1/2 simple syrup. Its good immediately, but even better after it sits 6 months or more. Serve very cold. As an experiment, we infused hot red peppers in vodka and it makes an inspired bloody mary! Another option is marmalade - delicious and ridiculously easy to make. I just seed my oranges and throw them into the food processor. Dump in a pot and add sugar til it's sweet enough. Boil and stir til mixture thickens. Water bath can for 15 minutes. We've done this as Christmas presents for years.
We added hot sauce to our list this year. Make a brine of 4 cups water and 4 tbs salt. Place hot peppers in a jar and cover with brine. Weight the peppers down so they stay submerged. We let ours sit at least 2 weeks or until the fermenting stops. Skim any scum off, them dump the peppers and brine into a blender and blend. Stain through a fine sieve. Mix the pepper juice with cider vinegar. You'll have to experiment with the ratio depending on the heat of the peppers and your taste. We added garlic cloves to one batch and it was yummy. You can use any color peppers, but don't mix colors or you may end up with a yuck, unappetizing color. The fermenting adds tang, but this works well if you just let the peppers sit in the brine for a week. The leftover pepper seeds and skins are full of flavor. We mix them one to one with tomato juice and pressure can in pint jars. We add a spoonful or so to salsas, dips, and soups for some extra zip. This also keeps well in the fridge without pressure canning.
This was probably more than you wanted, but it's worked well for us for several Christmases.
I was just thinking of starting a thread like this. I was turned onto making caramels by MAMACHEF--THANK YOU MAMACHEF :-)-- and have had success with the recipe Mamachef shared for Apple Cider Sea Salt Caramels, which I'll happily share here again: http://www.imbibemagazine.com/Apple-C...
They are to die for, and now I am motivated to make goodies as gifts. I would love to find more good caramel recipes as well as recipes for FUDGE....
Anyone have yummy fudge or caramel recipes?