Homemade cranberry and apple chutney
The edible gift is a phase sweeping the credit-crunched nation at the moment. It is the main reason my blog went eerily quiet during December. I was beavering away every weekend, and nearer Christmas evenings too, making all my Christmas presents. Why am I telling you this now when Christmas is well and truly over and we all want to forget about mince pies and tinsel?
Well for a start I couldn’t say anything at the time because members of my family who were due to receive the presents read my blog and that would have spoilt the surprise. Plus the gifts I made could be given for any occasion not just Christmas – birthdays, anniversaries and I think homemade presents are most appropriate for thank you gifts – it shows thought.
I went all out and made hampers full of treats, but you could just make one of the items. My hampers included:
1. Apple and cranberry chutney
2 Spicy apple chutney or pineapple chutney (some got one, some got the other)
3 Fruit and chocolate slices
4 Chocolate and pistachio fudge
5 Honeycombe (or cinder toffee, whatever you like to call it)
6 A jar of vanilla sugar
My homemade hampers in working progress
The chutneys turned out surprisingly easy to make, just chop the ingredients, throw in a pot and simmer. The key is to be clever about sourcing your ingredients and gift-wrap. I got my cellophane gift bags, which looked very professional, in Lakeland (I think just over £2 for 50 bags), the cute fabric for the tops of the chutney worked out at less than a pound for all of it, bought off the roll from an independent fabric shop – the ribbon from the same place costing around £3.
Fruit and chocolate slices
Fruit and chocolate slices
Too simple for words. Melt some good quality dark chocolate and pour onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Smooth it out with a knife. For a normal baking tray I used 200g of chocolate. Then scatter on your dried fruit.
I used cranberries and pineapple, which was delicious and festively coloured. When it has nearly set score lines in it to create big slabs, I made mine wiggly – because I couldn’t do a straight line – or cut out with shaped cutters. Once cool peel off the greaseproof paper and put in boxes lined with tissue paper.
Nigella's chocolate and pistachio fudge
Chocolate and pistachio fudge
This was a recipe from Nigella Express and is a super simple fudge-like confectionary that I thought was more like a chewy truffle, but either way was delicious.
Check out her recipe by clicking on the photo, but make sure you keep it in the fridge until you give the gift and then ensure the recipient keeps it cool.
It is also great stashed in the freezer and eaten without defrosting. I kept some back for myself and ate it this way! The photo is how Nigella’s turned out, but mine looked remarkably similar.
My homemade honeycombe
The honeycombe recipe was also from Nigella Express (she calls it hokey pokey) and if you thought the other two recipes were simple, you haven’t seen anything yet- just sugar, golden syrup and bicarb (click on the photo to take you to the recipe). Plus this is so much fun to make. It is the perfect gift for children or the young at heart. You could even dip the honeycombe pieces in chocolate to make your very own crunchie bar – but I just loved the festive gold colour of sweet.
I think I’m going to extend my gift making into the New Year as the homemade hampers were received so well. If you have any great recipes for delicious gifts I’d love to hear about them.
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