That is not to say that I don't love the occasional flour and sugar overdose, I just wanted to give a gift that was a bit more virtuous. A gift with which to start the New Year. A gift that could be saved in the fridge for weeks of divine snacking or used as an accompaniment on a cheese plate as guests bombard your home. Or, you know, a gift that could be warmed and poured over ice cream in preparation of sweat pants and a Breaking Bad marathon. Useful, somewhat wholesome, and different. That's what I wanted.
|The Chocolate Hazelnut Spread|
|An outtake from our attempt to get a posed shot of three cousins. The conclusion? Posed shots are overrated.|
A gift, by all accounts, that I would love to receive.
This is what happened.
Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread inspired by Bon Appetit
2 heaping cups hazelnuts, skins off (if at all possible, buy them like this, it is a pain to do it yourself)
1/4 cup sugar, I used organic
1 pound (good) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed*
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast your hazelnuts for about 13 minutes, or until dark in color and very toasty smelling. Let cool completely.
Put hazelnuts and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until paste-y.
Melt the chocolate in a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove the bowl and whisk in butter, cream and salt until smooth. Lastly, stir in the hazelnut/sugar mixture and combine.
Pour the mixture into your clean jars and let cool. The spread will thicken up as it cools.
Long term storage is best in the fridge, but it can sit out at room temperature for five days. Our favorite way to eat it is melted over slices of pineapple. It sounds strange and my kids can take all the credit for developing this application, but it is super yum. Even better with coconut and pistachios sprinkled on top. Like a not-ice cream sundae.
*I'm thinking of remaking this with coconut oil in place of the butter. I think it would be outstanding. If you happen to try it, let me know how it went in the comments.
Smokey Date & Lemon Spread from Joy the Baker
This was my favorite. I kept a jar for my own mouth. We ate it on crackers with goat cheese or manchego, with warm pita or naan, and on a fancy schmancy grilled cheese.
2 1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
Place a saucepan over medium heat and add all the ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes until the mixture resembles Date Stew, whatever that is. It should be thick, just make sure to stir it occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom.
Once you've got some thickness, pour the whole mess into the bowl of a food processor and whiz it around until smooth.
Pour into clean jars and store in refrigerator until ready to gift or serve. Lasts up to two weeks.
|Carrot Ginger Dressing and Smokey Date Spread|
|Isn't this the prettiest gift-worthy color?|
|These are half pint jars from Ball. Aren't they squatty and adorbs?|
Ginger Carrot Miso Dressing from Smitten Kitchen
We have this on salad at least once a month, with homemade pad thai or stir fry. I think it's fun to share something that has made your own family's life more delicious. Below, I have doubled the quantities for gifting purposes. If you're just making it for dinner (which I would recommend), halve the recipe unless you want leftovers (which I would also recommend).
2 large carrots or 4 medium, peeled and cut into manageable chunks
2 small shallots, trimmed and peeled
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons sweet white miso*
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other flavorless oil
4 tablespoons water
Put the carrots, shallots, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Run it until it looks like chunky baby food. Add the miso, vinegar and sesame oil and blend. While the motor is running, drizzle in the oil and water.
Although thicker, and more carrot-y, this dressing is very reminiscent of the one they serve at hibachi grills. You know the one. So spoon it over some butter lettuce and avocado, or use it as a vegetable or sushi dip. You'll want it on everything. Swear.
*Because of the stigma around soy, I always buy organic miso. I've also used other kinds of miso (like yellow) with this dressing and the results are delicious. Slightly different, but equally delicious.