It’s not too late to be that person that makes all of their Christmas gifts. You don’t need to channel Martha Stewart; there’s many fairly low effort items that you can whip up in your kitchen and look like a superstar with something either savoury or sweet.
Thanks to the cookbook from Alison Walker, Handmade Gifts From The Kitchen, if you can follow some straightforward instructions and you know how to tie a bow, you can wrap up everything from Bourbon Peaches to mini Christmas Cakes and please all sorts of hungry people on your holiday gift list.
We recently made the Rosemary Grissini (page 127) and served it up with some Marinated Goat Cheese from her recipe on the opposite page.
Summer apricots made there way into a Apricot and Almond Jelly and we’ve got some pears marinating right now as we substituted them for the peaches in Walker’s Bourbon Peaches recipe.
Make cookies, marshmallows, or popcorn bark, there’s everything in here to show that special someone you really do care. Better yet, give them the book as well and maybe they’ll return the favour.
Check out this recipe for peanut brittle and you’ll have something sweet in very little time. Substitute hazelnuts from one of the great local Agassiz nut producers and make it full of locally sourced ingredients.
PREPARATION: 15 minutes, plus cooling
COOKING: 20 minutes
MAKES: about 1 lb 6 oz
1/3 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 2⁄3 cups salted roasted peanuts
scant 2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
scant 2⁄3 cup water
Whether you like to snap a sweet nutty piece onto ice cream or just
nibble on some when you feel the need, this brittle also makes a perfect foodie gift. Don’t feel wedded to peanuts, though; toasted almonds, macadamias, or pistachios are all admirable substitutes.
Liberally grease a cookie sheet or a marble slab measuring around
12 inches x 16 inches. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Sprinkle the nuts on to a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Put the butter, sugars, and corn syrup into a large deep pan along
with the water. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals.
When the sugar is completely dissolved, bring to a boil. Boil steadily
without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 300°F (the hard
crack stage). If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a teaspoon of the
mixture into a bowl of cold water and it should snap easily.
Quickly and thoroughly stir in the warmed nuts. Pour the mixture
onto the greased cookie sheet or slab and spread out thinly. Leave to
cool completely, then break into pieces. This brittle keeps for up to two weeks in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.
Excerpted from Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen. Copyright © 2014 Alison Walker. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Limited a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.