We ran away for a little aloha last week, but I’ll catch you up on that later.
We returned home on the 19th, and I’ve been scrambling ever since. I’m hosting Hanukkah dinner tonight (Christmas Eve), and Christmas dinner tomorrow. Busy busy, but I managed to put up the Christmas lights and crank out a few non-knitted gifts. Two are super quick, and one is worth a little extra time. You can make something a little something for friends you’ll see between Christmas and New Year’s, or save these ideas for next year.
First off, and new on the hit parade: DIY Irish Cream, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. This comes together in 5 minutes, and makes three of these cute 8 ounce bottles. (You get 30 oz of liquid, but I barely filled three of these 1/4 liter (8 oz) bottles the first time I made this. No worries; just adjust your expectations accordingly.)
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 (14-ounce or 415 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey (original recipe calls for a cup, but 9 oz fills the bottles just a little better, and yum)
In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and a spoonful of cream into a paste. Add more cream a splash at a time until the paste is liquid enough that you can whisk in the rest of the cream. Transfer to a pitcher, and whisk in condensed milk, whiskey and vanilla. Bottle for gifts. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Seriously, how long do you think this will last? Give it a good shake before using; the cocoa wants to sink, and the cream wants to rise to the top. Of course!
Bourbon Caramel Sauce, recipe from Danielle Centoni. I’ve made this many times, and it always gets raves. We’ll be having some with ice cream on a pear tart tonight. My only warning on this one is don’t get greedy when caramelizing the sugar. It can go from perfect nut-brown to burnt in a blink. Brown enough is brown enough! This makes 2.5 cups; I’m giving it in little 4 ounce jars, because a little goes a long way.
My aunt sent me pears again this year, and in return she’ll get some cranberry pear bourbon jam. I get jam, pear tart, and pears for eating fresh. A good deal for both of us!
4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.
Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon and ginger, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.
Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to you! Did you make food gifts this year? What should be on my hit parade for next year?