Friday, December 3, 2010

Food for Giving

It's Christmas and time to make food gifts. It's always challenging to come up with something new and delicious and lots of fun finding creative things to use as packaging. The greatest pleasure is having my creations added to wish lists year after year. My brother-in-law loves my marshmallows and I've made many (many, many) pounds of Layered Peppermint Crunch.

Like last year, I wanted to share a few of the ideas I came up this year for my Homemade Holidays class.

Who wouldn't love having all the ingredients for a cozy meal tucked away in the cupboard? All that's needed for this post holiday Bean Soup in a Box is the leftover ham bone from Christmas dinner.

Panetonne is a traditional Italian favorite. This heavenly enriched bread is one of my favorite things. Making it takes hours and hours but these Panetonne cakes are an easy way to get that festive flavor within an hour. Using the Italian waxed molds make them super cute and extra easy to clean up.

One of my year round favorites are jellies, though typically in the form of grocery store gum drops, orange slices and spearmint leaves. These ruby jewels are made with Wisconsin cranberries and rolled in sugar to make them sparkle.

The favorite of the evening far and away were the Mocha Blocks. When swirled in a cup of hot milk you have a rich and delicious cup of mocha. Modified a bit from a King Arthur Flour recipe, they are easy to put together, keep well and make many, many cups of mocha.

I may just go stir one up right now.

Merry Christmas to me.

Mocha Blocks
nominally modified from King Arthur Flour

1 cup cream, divided
1 T. espresso powder
2 T. corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
1 cup sugar
1 T. vanilla
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 T. cocoa blended with 1t. espresso powder
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
wooden stirs or sticks
Using two pieces of parchment paper, line an 8" square pan so all four sides are covered. the bottom piece of parchment may be used as a "sling" to remove cnady from the pan.
Place 1/2 cup cream in a saucepan. Add the espresso powder, corn syrup, salt and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the espresso powder and sugar are dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Cover the pan and let it boil for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan, and check the temperature, it should be between 235 and 240 degrees. If it is, remove from the heat and add the vanilla; otherwise, let the mixture boil for a minute or two more. Set aside to cool.
Sift together 1 T. cocoa powder, 1 t. espresso powder and 1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup cream into a saucepan. Heat until it's just beginning to steam. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and let sit about 5 minutes to melt. (Alternatively, use a double boiler) Then whisk vigorously until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
Add the sugar mixture to the chocolate mixture; stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the powdered sugar mixture. Refrigerate to set up. Remove from the pan and turn over, sprinkle with the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Cut into 1" cubes. Stack 2 or 3 cubes on a wooden stick.
To enjoy these tasty cubes, heat up any combo of milk, half and half, or cream. Pour into a mug and stir slowly allowing the mocha blocks to melt! Enjoy!
Yield: 64 blocks; 21-32 servings

1 comment:

Georgine said...

These little blocks look incredible! How are you?