Edible Christmas Gifts
Tis’ the season for giving, and not just on Christmas day. Delight your foodie friends with these quick and easy edible Christmas gifts. Plus, I have a couple more ideas for you. Oh, you could give them a gift certificate, but why not really amaze them with your culinary skills. We’ll start with a homemade vinegar that they can use in their own cooking. After that, how about some chocolate fudge? Finally, we’ll give them a true southern snack for their cocktail parties or New Years celebration. These are sure to win you points, so lets get started.
Rosemary Infused Vinegar
This is great for any cook to have in their kitchen. You can add it to salad dressings, chicken, pork, marinades or soup. I hear that you can even clean your house, or bathe with it! The first thing you need is a decorative bottle that has been sterilized. Use a vinegar suited to whatever herbs you are using (you don’t have to use rosemary). I like white wine vinegar for the rosemary. The big debate is whether or not to heat the vinegar. Heating the vinegar will speed the process, but will also decrease the acidity, and make the vinegar cloudy. The best bet is to go with fresh rosemary and room temperature vinegar. This will result in a more balanced vinegar. One word of caution, though. Don’t use metal utensils as this could impart off flavors to your final product.
Rosemary Infused Vinegar
- 1 Decorative Bottle (16 to 18 Ounces)
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled, Rinsed and Dried
- 5 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
- 14 Ounces White Wine Vinegar
- Place a large pot of water over high heat (a stock pot works well for this). When the water begins to boil, submerge the bottle using kitchen tongs. Allow the bottle to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Gently remove the bottle, and allow it to dry and cool.
- Very gently crush your herbs. Using a wooden chopstick, push the garlic and rosemary into the dry bottle. Pour the vinegar over the garlic, and rosemary, leaving a 1/2 an inch at the top.
- Seal the bottle, and keep in a cool, dry and dark place for up to two weeks. After the first couple of days, you may need to add a little more vinegar. The vinegar should be ready to use in a week, but waiting two is better. The longer it steeps, the better it gets. The vinegar will keep for six to eight months.
Who doesn’t like fudge? If you say you don’t, I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you. This is a holiday staple, and it takes all of 15 minutes to make. The quality of the ingredients is important, so choose good chocolate. I like a combination of semi-sweet and bitter-sweet chocolate. I think it adds a little more richness. You can make this in a microwave, but I would suggest using a double boiler. There is much less chance of the chocolate seizing. You really don’t want that, as you will have one big chocolate mess. Try customizing your fudge. You can add your favorite nuts, peanut butter or peppermint. You can also flavor it with a liqueur like Baileys, Kahlua or Chambord.
- 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Chips or Shaved Bars)
- 1 Cup Bitter-Sweet Chocolate (Chips or Shaved Bars)
- 14 Ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Butter, Plus Some to Grease the Parchment Paper
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Pinch Kosher Salt
- Lightly spray an eight inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Line the dish with enough parchment paper so that it overlaps the sides. Lightly butter the parchment paper.
- In a double boiler, add chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt. Melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is thick and shiny.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the fudge into the prepared dish, and smooth with a rubber spatula. Cover and chill in the fridge at least two hours.
- Using the parchment paper as a handle, lift the fudge out of the dish. Cut the fudge into one inch squares. It will keep in an airtight container for a month, or in the freezer for three months.
These crunchy, tender little nuts are a true southern tidbit. And, damn, they are addictive. They are great at parties and in salads. They pair well with wine, beer or cocktails, and are fantastic with cheese. If you like these, and I know you will, you will want to make them again. You can get the pecans on sale, and store them. Just don’t freeze them. They can oxidize, and become freezer burned. A better option is storing them in the fridge. Be careful when making these as are very easy to burn. I know, because I have ruined more than one batch. Also, make sure to let them cool completely so the coating has a chance to harden. This will allow all of the flavors to come together nicely. Your Cocktail Pecans will keep for about a week in a sealed container.
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted and Allowed to Cool
- 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
- 3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 Cups Pecan Halves
- Pre-heat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and salt.
- Pour the mixture over the pecans, and very gently toss the pecans to make sure they are evenly coated. Spread the pecans on the baking sheet, making sure they are evenly spread out. Pour any remaining glaze over the pecans. Bake in the oven ten to twelve minutes. Start checking the pecans at the ten minute mark. They are done when there is an aroma, and they are just sizzling.
- Remove the pecans from the oven. Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet, and allow the pecans to cool, at least an hour. If need be, gently break apart any clumps. Transfer to an airtight container, and store at room temperature. These will keep for a week.
Edible Christmas Gift Epilogue
You can’t go wrong with any of these as Christmas gifts, but can also try my sausage balls Sausage Balls with Dipping Sauce Recipe . I get requests for these every holiday season. Also my bacon jam https://southernfeast.com/kilt-greens/ is every bit as addictive as the cocktail pecans. The fudge. You will win hearts and minds. Your rosemary vinegar will be remembered well into the new year. My personal advice is to double each of these recipes. That way you have a stash of your own!