Homemade Edible Gifts

With holiday season invitations flying in thicker than snowflakes,
we once again experience that sinking feeling that translates
roughly to the question: What do we bring to parties besides wine
and cheese balls?!

Answer: homemade edibles, which are fresher, more original
and more personal than anything store-bought. We've got some
recipes that will work for even the most kitchen-impaired.
But please remember, making your gift is only half the task.
The rest is in the packaging. Instead of stacking your cookies on
a plain paper plate, present them in doily-lined baskets or tins,
tied with festive holiday ribbons. Or dress up your gift foods with
creative containers like antique canisters, crocks and china
platters. And don't forget to include a card. This is especially
important if your food (yeast breads, for instance) has a short
shelf life. Write a note indicating how long it will keep, whether
it should be frozen or needs special storage, and the times and
temperatures for reheating.Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Torte
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use good-quality
chocolate chips)
1/2 lb. butter
5 extra-large eggs, separated
4 tbs. Franboise liqueur or brandy
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1 c. raspberries (either fresh or frozen--thawed and drained)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large
springform pan or two small ones. Place parchment or waxed paper
on bottom and butter again.
In a small saucepan melt chocolate and butter. Cool to room
temperature. Add chocolate mixture to a mixer bowl. Add egg yolks
and liquor. Blend well. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and still
beating, slowly add sugar. Add a small portion of whites to
chocolate and mix, then fold in remaining whites. Fold in flour and
raspberries.

Pour into prepared pans and bake 30-40 minutes.
Mixture will still be slightly moist. Cool on rack. Chill overnightin refrigerator then glaze and chill again.Glaze:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 oz. butter
4 tsp. oil
3 tbs. heavy cream
Combine in a small pan and melt chocolate. Add cream and cook
1 minute. Drizzle over torte and chill. To give as a gift, decorate
cake plate with flowers or holiday candied fruit. Enclose a note
that says the torte can be frozen and should be refrigerated until
it's ready to serve. Makes two six-inch cakes or one nine-inch.Hungarian Kifli CookiesPastry:
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. (8 oz.) cream-style cottage cheese
2 c. flour
In a large bowl, beat butter and cottage cheese until light
and fluffy. Add flour, beating until dough forms into a ball.
Divide into 3 equal portions. Wrap and refrigerate until firm,
several hours or overnight.Filling:
2 egg whites, lightly beaten with a fork
2 c. finely chopped walnuts
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend well. Mixture
should be thick, but spreadable.
To assemble: On a floured board, roll dough, one portion at
a time, into a 10-inch circle. Spread circle with one-third of the
filling (dip knife in water to ease spreading, or use moistened
hands). Cut each circle into 24 pie-shaped wedges. Beginning at
outer edge, roll up each wedge tightly. Place point-side down a
half-inch apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 13-15 minutes or
until golden at 375 degrees. Watch carefully. Remove and cool on
racks. Dust with powdered sugar and store in tins. Keeps for
several weeks. Makes 5-6 dozen.Fresh Berry Holiday Bread
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. blueberries or 1 c. coarsely chopped cranberries or a combination
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. orange juice
2 tbs. oil
Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl; stir in berries, nutsand peel. Combine egg, orange juice and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove from pan and cool. Can be frozen. Makes 1 large loaf.Pear Ginger Sauce (for desserts, ice cream, pound cake, etc.)

4 lbs. pears (8 c., chopped and peeled)
1/2 c. lemon juice
4 tsp. grated lemon rind
3 c. sugar
1/4 c. minced crystallized or candied ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 c. ginger brandy (optional)
Place all ingredients in a heavy stainless steel or enamel
pot. Bring to a slow boil and simmer, stirring frequently, for
about 30 minutes. The mixture should be syrupy. Remove cinnamon,
and pack sauce into hot canning jars.
Place lids on and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
Remove from bath and let cool. Makes three pints.Dried-Herb Vinegar
Pour 1 quart hot white vinegar (brought almost to a boil) over
1 1/2-2 tbs. dried herbs. Choose from tarragon, basil, oregano,
basil-and-marjoram, rosemary-and-thyme, or your own favorite
combination. When mixture is room temperature, place in glass jars
with lids. Let stand 2 weeks. Shake daily. Strain and decant into
wine splits or attractive glass jars. If possible, place a fresh
herb sprig into each bottle.

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