Yummy Gifts

I realise that my blog was quite neglected this year…well, these things happen.

But when I was presenting two foodie workshops at the recent Zero Waste Festival and was asked if the recipes will be on my blog I knew I’d have to do it!

So, it might be a bit later than I’d like (to keep up with the year-long spirit!) but here it is. This year, I focused on easy and quick homemade edible gifts that will bring joy to the foodies in your life.

If you want to have a look at my last year’s edible presents, they are here.

Here is a quick summary.

I love anything that fits into a jar (no surprise there). The nicer the jar, the better. But any suitably sized jar will work for pretty much all of these.  

Sweet treats

Golden Latte Mix

A super-quick recipe for this trendy treat with the bonus of being able to get all of the ingredients loose (from Noms if you are in Dublin, for example).

Mix in a small jar equal parts of:

  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground turmeric

This is very scalable recipe, all you need to remember (and possibly write on a tag you attach to the jar) is that you need one teaspoon of this mixture per drink. The maths – add 2tsp of each ingredient and you will get 6 portions out of it. To make the actual drink, mix the powder with one teaspoon of runny sweetener of your choice (maple, date or agave syrup or honey) and add 200ml of hot milk (plant-based, if you like – soy milk works best I hear!). Sip with a smile.

Energy Balls

I was recently experimenting with making almond milk. If you ever tried it, you know that you’re left with the nut pulp after you drain the milk out of it. You can always dry it and pulse it to make almond flour but I found a recipe for these delicious little bites which would also make a great edible present.

I got inspired here, but didn’t bother with the decoration – laziness level 10 🙂

  • 1 cup almond pulp
  • 1 cup soft dates
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut (or flakes shortly blitzed in a food processor)
  • 2 tsp cacao
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 segment or slice of orange
  • Pinch of salt 

Pulse the almond pulp and dates in a food processor to break them apart. Add all the other ingredients. Blend in food processor until thoroughly combined and sticky.  Make balls of desired size. Done! If you want to go fancy, you can roll the balls in either coconut flour, cacao powder or cinnamon. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week (but I bet they won’t last!)

These also make a great sweet snack at parties.

Chocolate Mandarins

Imagine a jaffa cake without the sponge. Yum.

Disclaimer: If you have a proven method of melting and dipping stuff in chocolate, use it. For some reason, this is always a bit of a touch&go thing for me. Sometimes, the chocolate doesn’t want to melt, sometimes it doesn’t want to set. It should work with a normal (plain) chocolate bar though. (I used chocolate chips that I got loose for melting but they were very stubborn :))

Either way, these are quick and look pretty.

You’ll need:

  • Mandarins/Clementines/Oranges
  • Chocolate for melting
  • Pinches of salt

I don’t give the quantities on purpose – it depends on how much chocolate you want to use and what consistency it melts to. Maybe start with a half of a bar (50g) and 2 mandarins.

Melt the chocolate. Dip segments of the fruit in it. Leave to cool and harden on a non-stick surface (I use a silicone sheet). You can sprinkle a little bit of salt on slightly cooled pieces. Pack into a nice decorated jar. Keep away from heat sources 🙂

Gingerbread Syrup

At the workshop, I mentioned a recipe for a gingerbread syrup – I came across a recipe and realised that I might use up some edible glitter I somehow still possess. But only might. Make up your own mind, if you want to here.

Vanilla Extract

Annemarie, the Zero Waste Chef, wrote a very informative piece on this topic with loads of pictures. Give it a read! Might be too late to do this one now as it needs to macerate for about 2 months before use but I feel a little label with ‘ready to use by’ can do the trick!

I also wrote about cookie mixes, pralines and candied peel in last year’s edible gifts post.

Savoury bites

In last  year’s post I also detailed recipes for crackers, carrot top pesto, marinated cheese and a classic apple chutney.

This year my favourite pesto is one with an unlikely main ingredient – parsley. I also found a great way to keep it vegan, if you wish – just swap the cheese for nutritional yeast.

Parsley Pesto

  • 1 cup shelled walnuts
  • 2 cups chopped parsley, about 1 bunch
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese (pecorino or parmesan but cheddar will also do), alternatively 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Put the walnuts, parsley, cheese, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pulse again. Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil, about 20-30 seconds. Add more oil if you want runnier consistency.

Black Olive Tapenade

While I was looking for some vegan party food, I came across a recipe for a black olive tapenade that can make a nice edible gift too. Easy to make too and ingredients available to get loose.

  • 130g black pitted olives
  • 100g walnuts
  • 130g mushrooms
  • 15ml olive oil
  • Juice from ½ lemon (3.5 tbsp)
  • A pinch of mixed herbs (thyme, oregano or basil will do too)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt & pepper

Fry thinly sliced mushrooms, garlic and mixed herbs in olive oil until soft. Once cooked, cool the mixture a little, place in a blender with the olives and walnuts and blend until smooth. Or rough – however you like it. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Spicy Nuts

There is an abundance of recipes on the world wide web for both savoury and sweet spicy nuts – a healthy snack that is just made for jars. In case you are running very very late, you can also buy these – straight into a jar of course!

Boozy gifts

Last year, I listed recipes for mulled wine mix (did you know you can mull white wine as well as red?) and eggnog which went down a treat. I was, however, asked by my vegan friends if there is something for them as well. So this year, I tried and tested an ‘eggnot’.

Vegan Eggnog (Eggnot)

25g pitted dates
25g cashew nuts
25g dried apricots
¼ tsp mixed spice
200ml brandy
1 vanilla pod, seeds only or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1l sweetened almond milk

Soak the dates, cashews, apricots and mixed spice in the brandy overnight.

The next day, tip the mixture into a blender and add the seeds from the vanilla pod and the almond milk. Blitz until smooth, then pour into eight tall glasses (use a sieve, if you like) with ice and grate some nutmeg on top.

It’s a bit less creamy than a regular eggnog but it’s pretty good – but I do recommend serving it cold….which makes it a better party food than an edible gift but you can still go ahead and gift it. If  you use homemade almond milk, however, it’s best to consume straightaway or the next day (give it a good shake beforehand).

And finally, this is my new favourite yummy gift that requires very little work, only a bit of patience and time. The original recipe comes from here.

Spiced Arancello

  • 5 large oranges (preferably organic)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1l vodka
  • 600g caster sugar
  • a few extra oranges, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and vanilla pods, to bottle

Pare the zest from the oranges using a peeler, making sure that none of the bitter white pith is left on the peel. Put the zest, spices and vanilla pod in one large or several smaller clean jars, then pour in the vodka. Seal and leave for a week, shaking the jar each day.

After one week, you’re ready for the next stage. Boil a kettle of water. Put the sugar in a heatproof bowl, then pour over 500ml boiling water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add to the vodka mix, then leave for another week, shaking the jar regularly. Strain into decorative bottles, discarding the peel and spices, and store in a cool place. Before giving, drop some fresh spices and peel into each bottle to decorate. Will keep bottled for 6 months. Cheers!

Happy gifting!

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