What’s better than receiving a fruitcake? Um, not receiving a fruitcake at all? If you’re tired of making fruitcake that nobody appreciates here are a few quick and easy-peasy chocolatey suggestions, perfect for the chocolate lover in your life, or even for yourself! The first two recipes ship and keep well too. And yes, let it be noted here and now, these recipes contain sugar. Natural sweetener, I like to call it, but if you don’t want to use cane sugar, stevia or paella, you don’t have to. I’m taking a break from not eating sugar. I kind of fell off the wagon over Halloween and since it’s the holidays, I’m back in full denial mode. Maybe getting back on the wagon will be my New Year’s Resolution.
The best thing about these sweet treats? No preservatives, no additives, no worrying about who made them (*cough**Nestle**cough*) or if said company profited from child labour. Plus, you get to choose the quality of your own ingredients. I’ve chosen to use 90% organic ingredients and dark chocolate instead of milk or white, but recipes have been left neutral for you.
Winter Cocoa Mix
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1 /4 cups dry sweetener
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 vanilla bean, cut crosswise in half, each half cut lengthwise (optional)
Directions: In food processor blend cocoa, sugar and chocolate until almost smooth. Stir in vanilla bean pieces. Store at room temperature in tightly covered container up to six months.
Makes 3 1/2 cups of mix or 18 cups of hot chocolate.
Instructions for use: Mix 3 Tbsp Winter Cocoa Mix (do not include vanilla bean) with one cup milk of your choice and heat in microwave or saucepan, stirring occasionally until hot. *Make sure you write this on a tag for the gift receiver!
Frugal packaging suggestions:
Idea#1: Take your children to the thrift store to find the perfect mug. Dole out at least 3 servings (9 Tbsps of mix) into a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon and place in the mug. If you dole out the mix to a few people you have more gift to go around.
Idea#2: Take children to same thrift store for a small tin canister. (I found this one today). Fill with cocoa mix. Include mug, if desired.
Idea#3: Sew little bags with drawstrings. Put cocoa mix inside a plastic or cellophane bag and pop inside fabric bag. Give with mug.
Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pecan Clusters
Prep time: 20 minutes
300 grams (10 1/2 oz) white, dark or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pecan halves
Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Remove from heat. Mix in cranberries and pecans. Drop by tablespoons of mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Cool in the fridge until clusters are set. Store in a tightly sealed container at a cool room temperature. If stacking the clusters be sure to place a sheet of parchment between each layer. *If you don’t want to use dried cranberries or pecans, you might try an alternate combination like walnuts or toasted almonds and raisins. These are rich!
Frugal packaging suggestions:
Idea #1: Store inside an old canning jar, topped with festive bow.
Idea #2: Store inside whimsical dollar store or thrift store tin.
Idea #3: Store inside a round or square basket complete with lid (You can find these in basket stores or your local Chinatown). Place clusters inside small cupcake liners.
Prep time: 5 minutes
*note: If giving as a gift, make within a week of giving.
1 1/2 cups dry sweetener
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: In heavy saucepan heat sugar, cocoa, cream and butter or margarine to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Cool sauce slightly to serve wam, or to serve later, cool completely then refridgerate up to one week sealed in air tight container. Reheat before using.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Serve over ice cream, pound cake or frozen yogurt.
This post is a part of The Nourishing Gourmet’s Handmade Gift Carnival. It is also part of Life As Mom’s Ultimate Recipe Swap, Momtrend’s Friday Feasts, Designs by Gollum’s Foodie Friday, and Ann Kroeker’s Food on Friday. To see last week’s Easy Handmade Gift Post from me on Bath Products go here.