My family is large... and Italian.. therefore, food is always a big hit. For the past few years I've come across a few great recipes that are perfect to give out in groups. You can go crazy with packaging (as I tend to do) or just keep it really really simple. Here are two of my favorites. I couldn't find my original photos.. and it is way to early for me to have this year's gifts ready to shoot.. so I'll try to provide as many relevant pics as possible! ENJOY
••••••MARINATED BOCCONCINI in MASON JARS•••••
"Bocconcini" are those little balls of fresh mozzarella. In this recipe they will live in a mason jar, marinated in a combination of olive oil, vinegar, rosemary, pepper, salt etc. You can design a label for the top of the jar (here's what I did last year), or tie some ribbon around the top and attach a gift tag..This looks so elegant and colorful when you're finished that it doesn't even need any fancy packaging.
12 fresh basil leaves
12 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 whole cloves garlic, crushed
Crushed red pepper flakes
4 pounds bocconcini (small mozzarella balls, about 2 inches in diameter) * You can call your local deli ahead of time and they can set aside a larger amount for you.
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 pint-size mason jars, sterilized
In each mason jar add 3 basil leaves, 3 thyme sprigs, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 clove garlic, a pinch red pepper flakes and salt, to taste. Fill the jar half way up with extra-virgin olive oil and add 10 to 12 drained boccocini balls. Top off with more extra-virgin olive oil. Cover and seal the jar. Repeat with the other 3 jars. Turn the jars over several times to incorporate the flavors. Refrigerate for 3 at least days before serving. Lasts for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
••••• PEPPERMINT BARK •••••
I modified a Martha Stewart recipe because I wanted to use dark and white chocolate together... To package these guys I broke them up and filled a candy-friendly plastic bag I then sealed each bag with a custom-designed sticker. You can even just tie the bag closed with a ribbon, attach a gift tag. This is a very easy recipe and a perfect to give out to co-workers, friends, hair dresser, landlord, UPS driver, etc. The recipe below makes about 2.25 lbs of bark.
1 lb white chocolate chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb dark chocolate chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
12 large candy canes
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil ( this is easy to find at any specialty baking store)
1. Coat 11 x 17 baking sheet (I only have small baking sheets.. which are fine to use, it just takes longer to finish the batch) with parchment
2. Melt dark chocolate first in double boiler (if you have one.. if not I just use a saucepan filled up about 1/4 with water and put my chocolate fondue pan inside...making sure the water does not overflow)
3. pour dark chocolate into baking sheet... chill for about 10 minutes.. or until it is just starting to harden.
4. Melt white chocolate the same way you melted the dark... When it is all melted, add peppermint oil and chopped candy cane.
5. pour white chocolate mixture over the top of the dark chocolate.. you can be playful and drizzle it around.. or completely cover the dark chocolate.
6. Allow the combination to cool for about 30-40 minutes. Beak into pieces... distribute into your containers or bags...
These will last for a while if they are kept refrigerated.. probably about a week or so.