The months have floated by and the celebrations of dressing up and stuffing our bellies have come and gone. Now ‘tis the season to give! For the food and wine-minded the obvious gifts to give are those that are perishable and cherishable. Early December becomes the time to stock up on flour, sugar, oranges and cinnamon sticks and set aside a few hours to bake it all into mini masterpieces.
After spending six years living in Boston I made the move back to my home state of Colorado, which gave me an even better excuse to cook and bake for all the friends and those whom I practically call family back in New England. I wanted to create gift boxes with both savory and sweet goodies so as to not massively add to an assumed already mountain of cookies and cakes. Adding some jarred, savory gifts also allows your receive-ees to have some nosh for weeks to come.
After tearing through my massive backlog of Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines as well as my trusty bunch on online recipe sources, I came up with this list of holiday eats to send and share:
- Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Summer Jam (I used raspberry)
- Orange Cardemon Chocolate Cookies (with fleur de sel)
- Homemade Cumin Chipotle Chili Paste (I skip the step that directs to strain)
- Onion and Port Chutney
- Dark! Gooey Chocolate Cake (see recipe below)
Since I was to be sending these gifts across the country, packaging was as important as the food items themselves. For the jarred Items, I typed up custom labels using the PaperSource’s free label templates. I handwrote the cookie tags and secured it and tins with a holiday ribbon. I baked the chocolate cakes in oven-proof, disposable and decorated cardboard loaf pans which I then wrapped in parchment and kitchen twine for a home made feel. I had extra greens lying around from cutting the Christmas tree and used small clippings of these to add a Christmassy touch to the cake package. All went into a box lined with natural excelsior. Lastly, a handwritten card is a must.
Dark! Gooey Chocolate CakeIngredients
1 ¾ Cup sugar
¾ Cup Black Onyx cocoa powder (or the darkest cocoa powder you can find)
2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup water
2 Cups (and if at altitude + 2 Tablespoons) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Cup whole milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375° degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or two loaf pans.
- In a 3 quart saucepan add the sugar, cocoa powder, butter and water. Place on medium heat and stir until the butter has completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Wisk to combine. In a small bowl whisk the milk with cider vinegar. Wisk in eggs.
- Wisk the egg and milk mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture. In three additions, whisk in dry ingredients until just combined. Add vanilla and whisk just to combine.
- Pour batter into either pre-greased cake pan or two loaf pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once cooled, sift powdered sugar over top.