Edible homemade gifts to make
With so much going on in the Irish food world, we've pulled together some giftable treats made with homegrown produce. Each recipe below celebrates a hero food producer, from Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, to Teeling's whiskey, Toonsbridge Dairy's buffalo ricotta and Sheridan's cheeses.
Including a show-stopping cake, salted caramel sweets and divine chutney (above), Donal Skehan shows how to give some neighbourly affection with a homemade gift.
Apple & Ginger Chutney
Apple and ginger are a match made in heaven and go wonderfully together in this chutney. Transfer the chutney into jars and label each one with a Christmas wish to its receiver and some serving suggestions. The chutney is great with leftover Christmas ham or served with delicious Sheridan’s cheese, as shown here. Makes approximately 4 jars of chutney.
YOU WILL NEED
* 1kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
* 40g fresh ginger, peeled and minced
* 3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
* 350g dark-brown sugar
* 250ml cider vinegar
* 250g raisins
1 Place all the ingredients into a large stainless-steel pot and cook at a steady simmer over a medium-high heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot. 2 Transfer the chutney into sterilised jars and seal while still hot. Stored like this in a cold, dark place, they should last for at least a year.
Irish Atlantic Sea Salt Caramel
Homemade caramels are the ideal edible gift at Christmas time. These ones have a sprinkle of Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, which balances and intensifies the caramel flavour. They set to a soft, chewy consistency, making them fairly irresistible. Makes 30 caramels.
YOU WILL NEED
* 175ml double cream
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 60g butter
* 2 tsp Irish Atlantic Sea Salt
* 250g granulated sugar
* 160g golden syrup
1 Grease a baking tin (22cm x 15cm) with a little butter and line with parchment paper. Place the cream, vanilla extract and half the butter in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to a steady boil, then remove from the heat and set aside. 2 In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the sugar and golden syrup over a medium-high heat. Mix together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 155°C on a sugar thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the cream mixture. Place the pan back on the heat and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 127°C. Stir through the remaining butter until completely incorporated. 3 Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin and sprinkle evenly all over the top with sea salt. Allow to cool completely before slicing into individual caramels with a knife dipped in boiling water (this allows it to slice without sticking). 4 Wrap each one with parchment paper and they will keep in an airtight container for up to a month.
Teeling Whiskey Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
What can be more sophisticated gift than homemade petits fours? This recipe can be adapted with whatever flavours you like, so they can be tailored to the special someone you have in mind, just package these up in little festive bags. Makes about 12 truffles.
YOU WILL NEED
* 200g hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
* 200g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
* 150ml double cream
* 2 tbsp Teeling Whiskey
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Place the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl and set aside. 2 Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat and then pour over the chocolate. Using a whisk, mix the cream through the chocolate until it is completely melted. Add in the whiskey, vanilla extract and half the chopped hazelnuts. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for about an hour until it is firm enough to scoop.(Alternatively, set the truffles in a greased ice-cube tray in the fridge.) 3 When the chocolate is set, scoop out amounts the size of a small tablespoon and roll into little balls. 4 Sprinkle a clean work surface with the remaining hazelnuts and then roll the truffles in the nuts to coat. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.
Spiced Clementine & Ricotta Cake
This deliciously zingy, spicy festive cake comes courtesy of the very talented Kate Packwood, formerly of the much-missed Stoneybatter bakery, The Wildflour Bakery. It takes a little time to prepare, but will make for a show-stopping gift.
YOU WILL NEED
For the cake
* 300g unsalted butter * 300ml Rooibos tea (brewed strong)
* 356g plain flour
* 420g caster sugar
* 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 3⁄4 tsp allspice
* 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
* 3 organic eggs, beaten
* 150g Mossfield Farm natural organic yoghurt
* Italian meringue buttercream (see below)
* 200g Toonsbridge Dairy buffalo ricotta
* 4 tbsp icing sugar
* 1 tsp orange blossom water
* honey on the comb (in the absence of this, any Irish honey will do)
* 4 clementines, peeled and segmented
* sprigs of fresh rosemary
For the Italian meringue buttercream
* 300g organic egg whites
* 600g caster sugar
* 270ml water
* 900g unsalted butter, softened and mashed with a fork
1 Grease and line three 9in cake pans. Preheat the oven to 170°C. 2 In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the tea together. Bring to the boil, then take immediately off the heat and allow to cool slightly. 3 Sieve the flour into a very large bowl and, using a balloon whisk, mix in the sugar, the bicarbonate of soda and the spice and rosemary. 4 Whisking constantly (by hand), add the liquid in a steady stream and keep whisking until incorporated. 5 Add the eggs slowly while still whisking. 6 Add the yoghurt; whisk until smooth. 7 Pour between the three tins and cook for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Remember to turn the cakes halfway through the cooking time.
For the Italian meringue
1 In a large saucepan, mix the water and the sugar. Bring slowly up to a high heat and allow to get to 118°C (this will take about 20 minutes, but check it regularly with a sugar thermometer). 2 When the sugar syrup is nearly ready, put the egg whites into the very clean bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until almost stiff, but not dry. 3 When the sugar syrup reaches 118°C, immediately pour over the egg whites in a steady stream, with the mixer on high speed. Keep the mixer on high speed until the meringue is at room temperature. This will take about 20 minutes; you may need to give your mixer a rest halfway though. 4 When the meringue is at room temperature, add the butter in small lumps, with the mixer still on high. Keep whisking on high for another 10 minutes at least. 5 For the last three minutes, turn the mixer down to the lowest setting to deflate it slightly and prevent air bubbles.
1 Beat the ricotta with the orange blossom water and icing sugar. 2 On top of the first layer of cake, cover with equal but generous portions of ricotta and Italian meringue buttercream. Put the next layer on top and repeat. 3 When the three layers are sandwiched together, spoon on a very generous amount of Italian meringue buttercream. Using a palette knife, cover the entire cake, including the sides, and then keep scraping it back in smooth movements to reveal the texture of the cake. 4 When finished, top with clementines, sprigs of rosemary and small chunks of honeycomb. Drizzle with honey.
RECIPES AND PHOTOGRAPHY Donal Skehan