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Nutty Gifts

As Christmas approaches and we try to come up with creative new ideas for friends and family, a way to avoid the crammed stores and busy streets is to create a treat in your kitchen with a your own personal touch.  And nuts are the perfect ingredient to start with as there are so many wonderful appetizing and healthy ways to prepare them. Here are a few ideas I hope will inspire your own creative juices – all you need are some nice boxes or jars, some ribbon and voila!

Mint dusted nuts – toast nuts and while still warm place in a bowl with enough warmed honey to coat them.  Mix well to coat all sides then pour into a sieve to drain.  Next, combine equal amounts of powdered sugar and cornstarch in a large zip lock bag, add a couple of drops mint essence (or your favorite essence such as chocolate or coffee), add the nuts and toss really well.  Transfer to a lined tray to dry then package as desired!

Nutty sweets – place nuts, any kind of dried fruit, some rum and a little skim milk powder if desired in a food processor and grind to a coarse paste.  Shape into balls and then roll in coconut, sugar, sesame seeds or more finely chopped nuts.  Wrap individually in cultured cellophane or arrange in a recycled chocolate box.  Great for your health conscious or vegetarian foodie as gift idea!

Italian Panforte (fruit and nut slice) and Amaretti (nut based cookies) – you can find plenty of Panforte and Amaretti recipes on line and incorporate a whole mix of nuts for a traditional Italian Christmas idea.  It’s nice to make a selection of Amaretti using different nuts and arrange alternately in a nice box.

Or try making all of the above and mixing together for a nutty Christmas assortment!

Bon-nut-appetit and cheers for the season,

The Nutty Chef