A bottle of wine dressed up in a festive bag is the usual accessory when invited to a holiday gathering. But it’s fun to mix it up. With available time for most folks in such short supply, gifts from the kitchen are becoming a rare gem.
This gift idea is almost as simple as purchasing a bottle: make a riff on Bailey’s Irish Cream–the one perenially stocked in the liquor department.
I made my own Irish Cream, divided it between Bell Jars and put a plaid ribbon around the lip. I delivered it to some favorite cousins, who claim ancestry in the Emerald Isle. Here’s the recipe:
In a blender, combine 1-2 cups of Irish whiskey, 1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup, 2-3 teaspoons instant expresso (or coffee). Blend on high until combined. Stir in the cream until incorporated. Keep refrigerated and serve chilled. (Lasts as long as the expiration date on the cream that you used.)
Something demanding more time, but a simple recipe all the same, is Yogurt and Fig Cake. (Featured in the recipe below.) A friend and incredible pastry chef, Anna Marie Ascher, once told me that the perfect cake is one you would enjoy eating for breakfast. This certainly meets that criteria.
I might add that the perfect cake for gifts is the size of a loaf pan and easily portable. When cool, wrap the cake in brown parchment paper (so that the topping doesn’t stick), tie with a bit of twine and stick a sprig of holly between the string and paper. Voila!
I can savor this cake for a good two weeks, if tightly wrapped and refrigerated. Try serving with a dollop of freshly whipped cream enhanced with a liqueur, such as Grand Marnier to complement the orange zest. It also freezes well up to a couple of months, ready to thaw when the occasion demands.
Or step it up yet another notch and make your own chocolate truffles. Take a look at the recipes–they really aren’t as hard as you’d think. Craft shops carry small boxes that are perfect for these morsals.
The reasonably simple recipes are tailor-made for packing in tins and distributing amongst office mates.
May your days be merry and bright!