Home baked goods make delicious gifts and donations

Giving food is a Christmas tradition. Consider charitable options this year such as food banks, women’s shelters and soup kitchens. Donated food and money are welcome.

The natural disaster in the Philippines left thousands of people in need. The federal government is matching all qualifying donations made by Canadians until Dec. 9.

Another option for friends and family is grocery store gift cards.

One idea for the foodie in your life is food websites such as The Missing Ingredient, www.missingingredient.ca. Founder and owner Angie Quaale of Langley, B.C., said it’s like a magazine subscription but one you can eat.

“Every month, we send a box of hard to find missing ingredients, along with recipes and tips to use them. The box is really designed for people who love to cook and eat. And people who live in places where they don’t have access to specialty ingredients find it especially awesome.”

Here are a few recipes that make excellent homemade Christmas gifts

Candied citrus peel

  • peel of 3 oranges, 2 grapefruit or 6 lemons
  • 1 c. granulated white sugar 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. corn syrup 45 mL
  • 3/4 c. water 185 mL

Remove inner flesh and white pithy part from the peel. The white part tends to be bitter. Cut the cleaned peel into strips.
Blanch peel in salted boiling water 15-20 minutes. Empty and blanch again in fresh water for 15 minutes. Blanching serves two purposes. It tenderizes and takes away bitterness and it changes the cellular structure so that sugar will be accepted into the peel.
Bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil. Add blanched peel. Simmer until peel is translucent. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit overnight in the sugar syrup.
The next day, reheat sugar syrup before removing the peel. Drain peel on a rack and let sit for a day to dry. Toss peel in granulated sugar.
It is now ready to use or it can be dipped in chocolate.

Nanaimo bars

The trick to making a perfect Nanaimo bar is to chill each layer well before adding the next.

Bottom Layer

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa powder 75 mL
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs 310 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped almonds 125 mL
  • 1 c. flaked coconut 250 mL

Combine butter, sugar and cocoa powder in double boiler and heat until melted. Slowly drizzle hot mixture into beaten egg, whisking constantly until thickened.
Stir in graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press mixture firmly into an ungreased eight by eight inch (20 cm x 20 cm) baking pan and chill.

Middle Layer

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature 125 mL
  • 3 tbsp. whipping cream 45 mL
  • 2 tbsp. custard powder 30 mL
  • 2 c. icing sugar 500 mL

Cream together butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar until light. Spread over bottom layer and chill.

Top Layer

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate 115 g
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 30 mL

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat. Once cool but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator until set, about an hour. Slice and serve.

Cheddar cheese crisps

  • 1/2 c. butter softened 125 mL
  • 1 c. sharp cheddar 250 mL
  • or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • pinch of cayenne
  • chopped fresh rosemary any herb, to taste
  • 1 1/4 c. rice crisp cereal 310 mL

In a stand mixer using paddle attachment or in a bowl by hand, mix all ingredients. Make into a two inch (10 cm) roll wrapped in waxed paper. Chill.
It can be frozen up to two months. Slice into 1/2 inch (3 cm) pieces and bake at 375 F (190 C) for 15 minutes or until beginning to brown on the edges.
Cool and serve.

Homemade marshmallows

  • 1 c. cold water, divided 250 mL
  • 3 1/4 oz. envelopes unflavoured gelatin 21 g
  • 2 c. sugar 500 mL
  • 1 c. light corn syrup 250 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract 10 mL
  • 2 c. icing sugar, sifted 500 mL

Lightly spray a nine x 13 inch (23 cm x 33 cm) baking pan with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper. Sift icing sugar onto the bottom of the parchment lined pan.
Place 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold water into the bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heavy two quart (2 L) saucepan, add sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold water.
Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Increase heat to high and boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240 F (115 C), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in a stream down the side of the bowl.
Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture has tripled in volume and is thick and stiff, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine, about 30 seconds longer.
Scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and level with a damp metal spatula. The mixture is sticky so smooth it out as best as you can.
Dust top with icing sugar and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours.
Remove marshmallow from pan by first running a small sharp knife around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from pan. Invert pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Peel off parchment paper and dust top of marshmallow with icing sugar.
Cut marshmallow into squares using clean kitchen scissors, a pizza roller or sharp knife. Dip cut sides of marshmallows in additional icing sugar.
Shake off excess sugar and store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to three weeks.
Makes about 36 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) marshmallows.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: [email protected].

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: [email protected]

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