Happy Sunday, all!
Last week we started a journey into DIY edible gifts and this week I am continuing it. These ideas involve quite a bit of one of my favorite things: SCIENCE. I love the fact that baking/cooking is essentially chemistry in the guise of a fine art. You take all of these seemingly unrelated ingredients, add them together in the correct proportion, do something to change their composition (chopping/mixing/heating/cooling), and then add your own flourish to make it look good. It’s simply amazing to me and always has been. I assure you that none of these are very complicated and most do not involve any specialty items. First up is a tasty, tangy, citrus based treat that is fantastic when also dipped in chocolate: candied citrus peel.
It’s as simple as boiling the peel to remove the bitterness from the pith and then simmering in a simple syrup to get these beautiful and tasty treats. Packaged in cutely decorated canning jars or even in holiday themed cellophane would make a great little stocking stuffer. Next up, let’s continue in the fruit flavored realm and whip up some homemade curd!
If you’ve never had some sort of fruit curd (most often sold as lemon or lime), I would highly recommend buying or making some. This delicious tart/sweet fruit butter-like confection is perfect on toast or as a component in other cookies and cakes. Once again, the simple ingredients are cooked together to get a silky smooth topping. Packaging it to look festive in cute little jars to go with our peel? Brilliant. Ok, so now that we’ve seen something akin to a fruit butter, how about a walk on the wild side? My father loves hot peppers and one year he decided to use some leftover jalapeños from the garden to make hot pepper jelly. Yes, you read that right, HOT PEPPER JELLY.
What, you may ask, can hot pepper jelly be used for? Any number of things, foremost for us, though was spreading a thin layer of cream cheese in a shallow dish and slathering pepper jelly over it just to scoop it up on crackers. Soooooooooooo good! It’s already so festively colored, too. You can always dial up the color with a couple drops of food coloring for effect, too. The one ingredient you may need to seek out is pectin but most grocery stores carry it in the baking aisle. Alright, moving on to some of the sweeter side items, with that cocoa mix we put together in last week’s list how about some homemade marshmallows?
These amazing little lumps of chewy flavor are just so neat to me. I never knew how easy it could be to make them from scratch in any flavor you want. It just takes some gelatin and corn syrup to start the process (with a lot of powdered sugar added in, of course). It think some more of those cello bags or even in stacking jars with that cocoa mix would be perfect. Finally, last but certainly not least, is my current homemade obsession: caramel. In this case, creamy, chewy fleur de sel caramels:
I’ve been making lots of whiskey flavored caramel sauce to put in and on things and these little beauties feel like the next big step. Burning sugar is the height of coolness for me in terms of kitchen science. They are gorgeous and would be so cute just packaged in little twists of waxed paper, then strewn over the bottom of a big gift basket containing our other homemade goodies. I don’t know about you but I’m going to have to “test” a little bit of everything before it goes to it’s eventual owners just to make sure it’s good.
Well now that I’ve gone and made us all hungry, it’s time to say farewell until next week when we will start our annual romp through some holiday decorating ideas.