Thursday, 5 January 2012

Christmas Hampers

As usual, my ambitions were way bigger than my abilities, so I didn't manage to do quite as much as I was hoping. I did, however, put a few hampers of varying sizes together to give as gifts for Christmas this year - oops I mean last year! Vanessa Kimbell's wonderful Let's Make Christmas event inspired some of these and do follow the link to find many more ideas for home made foodie gifts. I'd wanted to decorate the boxes to make them look suitably festive, but ran out of time. Luckily, I don't think anyone minded.

This is what I made:

Amaretti - recipe taken from the outright winner of Vanessa Kimbell's Let's Make Christmas event back in November, as judged by Dan Lepard - Claire of Claire's Handmade Cakes.

Butterscotch Banana Cupcakes - another winning Dan Lepard recipe from Short & Sweet. I made these for the tool hire boys next door, who uncomplainingly take in our parcels when we're not at home and let us know when something has been delivered.

Candied Nuts - I was lucky enough to take home a jar of candied pecan nuts from Jaynerly at Let's Make Christmas. I was so taken with how good they were that I had to make some for the hampers, although mine were mixed nuts. Not having any maple syrup to hand, I used date syrup instead. Fortunately, it worked really well.

Candied Orange & Lemon Peel - very nice to snack on and also perfect for cooking as it is infinitely better than the mixed peel you buy in tubs. This time I peeled the fruit first, which made for a tidier result, but left me with a lot of orange and lemon flesh that I didn't really now what to do with. I also used star anise in the syrup and coated the peel slices in caster sugar after I'd drained off the syrup. I've just made another batch for my own consumption.

Chilli Sauce - our chillies ripened much better this year than they did last, which meant we got a good hot chilli sauce with a gorgeous orangey red colour.

Chocolate Almond & Cranberry Bites - were a bit of an afterthought as my review copy of 200 Christmas recipes arrived just a few days before Christmas and I needed something quick to make.

Chocolate Mincemeat - I made some mince pies with this and they were certainly the best I've tasted this year. I'm hoping the recipients think the same.

Glitzy Chocolate Mendiants - were the items I was most pleased with. Despite having a chocolate blog, I'm really nervous about working with chocolate in it's pure form as I have not yet mastered tempering. Thankfully, the chocolate behaved itself this time.

Mixed Spice - I'd never thought to make up my own mixed spice before. I don't know why not as I make up various curry mixes. But I got the idea to do this from Karen's amazing blog, Lavender and Lovage. I used star anise, cardamom, black pepper and coriander as well as the standard cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg that you would expect.

Orange Liqueur - another recipe taken from the creative Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Orange Shortbread - I doubled my standard shortbread recipe omitting the cocoa and adding organic orange zest to the mix. I wanted to use my "home made" stamp for something and these seemed the most suitable candidates.

Polish Spice Biscuits - another of the amazing Let's Make Christmas gifts. This time from the fabulous Ren of Fabulicious Foods who iced hers most beautifully.

Pumpkin Biscotti - my Let's Make Christmas contribution.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup - I forgot to take a picture of this one, but it was delicious. We liked it as a drink with hot water, my mother used hers over ice-cream. I have  Hannah of Home Baked to thank for this one.

Spiced Apple Chutney - this is Nigella's recipe in How to be a domestic goddess and it's a lovely one which I make every year. This year I made two lots, one for us and one to give away.

Wee Dundee Cakes - I'd been wanting to make some miniature Christmas cakes, but wasn't sure what recipe to use. As soon as I saw these over at Lavender and Lovage, I was hooked.


28 comments:

  1. Oh my! What a lot of gorgeous tasty treats you made. I bet everyone was delighted with them. So beautifully packaged too.

    Do you have the recipe to the banana cupcakes? They look divine!

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  2. wow so lovely what a nice selection of gifts. I am sure the hampers were much appreciated!!

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  3. oh my goodness this is an amazing array of baking - I can't imagine what you might have done if you had done as much as you hoped - this is a huge amount of work and I am sure all appreciated it (and if they didn't they can send it my way)

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  4. What a lovely selection! I am with Katie on the banana cupcakes. Yum!

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  5. What a superb array of treats! Lucky, lucky recipients!

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  6. I'm sure all the recipients of your hampers were thrilled to receive them. Everything looks a real treat!

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  7. Beautiful hampers, love the large array of goodies too. The chilli sauce looks amazing!

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  8. AMAZING hampers! Just wonderful and you were so clever to photograph them too....sadly I have given all mine away sans photos! Wonderful items and I am sure your recipients were delighted!
    Karen

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  9. sorry... there must have been a hitch in the postal system...

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  10. Great hampers what a thoughtful gift. The chiclli sauce caught my eye I wonder how easy they were to grow?? I have also wondered!

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  11. Wow, that is an amazing hamper. Bet you are popular! I think you have a business in the making.

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  12. Katie - thank you. Here is a link to Dan's recipe - I just baked them in muffin cases instead of as a cake. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2007/nov/24/foodanddrink.baking38

    WLM - thank you. My worry is, I've now set up expectations for next year!

    Johanna - thank you. I think I bit of rather more than I could chew here (although I didn't actually get to chew very much of it)!

    Helen - that's Dan for you ;-)

    FoodyCat - ahh, thank you. Luckily, it all seemed to be appreciated.

    Suelle - thank you, that's high and valued praise from you.

    Hannah - thank you. That chilli sauce is amazing, but you need to be made of fairly stern stuff to use much of it.

    Karen, thank you. As you could see, a large part of this was down to you.

    Dom - I was wondering why I hadn't been inundated with grateful thanks. Wretched postal system!!!

    Cakeboule - thank you. We grow the chillies outside and they aren't the easiest things to grow as they don't ripen until really late in the season by which time the frost has usually got them. We're trying to breed an earlier ripening version.

    Jac - thanks. Would sort of like to do something like that, but also not sure I could cope with the stress levels ;-)

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  13. That's some lucky friends you have, I hope they showed lots of appreciation, if not I'll be sending you my address for next year!

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  14. Goodness me you have been busy. Everything looks wonderful.

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  15. I am gob-smacked that you managed to bake so many things to put into your hampers, all of which I would like to try. Impressive and delicious....Happy New Year!!

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  16. Choc, how lucky were your friends to get hampers with all those goodies in them! I'd forgotten about your wonderful chilli sauce, I'll have to make some more! :)

    All the best for a glorious, chocolate-filled 2012! xx

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  17. Wow, what a fantastic hamper. I think you did really well to make all those treats.

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    1. Thanks Janice, it was a bit of an undertaking - phew!

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  18. Beautiful and yummy pics!! LOL

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  19. Far out brussel sprout!!! You must have been preparing for Christmas for months. What a lovely grouping of goodies to give (and receive lol)

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    1. Chele, hopefully these were enjoyed a bit more than a Brussel sprout, but hey ;-)

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  20. Wow! What an amazing selection of hamper goodies- I've no doubt all the lucky recipients were absolutely delighted with all these goodies!

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    1. Kate, thank you. I'm glad to say, they seemed to be much appreciated.

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  21. I would LOVE to have received a hamper from you - these look absolutely amazing and what an incredible effort you put in. Very impressed with the quality and variety!

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    1. Little Loaf, thank you so much for your lovely comment, much appreciated.

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  22. I'm in awe, you must have been up all night like Cinderella. Those little cakes in particular look gorgeous

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    1. Thank you Oxslip - I think I was up several nights on this, but the end result was much appreciated.

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