By SUSAN NASH GILPIN
December 16, 2009 12:00 PM

Turn the page for four holiday gift recipes!

CRANBERRY LIQUEUR

Clear glass bottles ($4.49; containerstore.com) let the bright pink color shine through; use the gift tag to provide drink recipes.

PEPPERMINT BARK

Present the bark in a seasonal tin lined with waxed tissue paper.

ESPRESSO FUDGE SAUCE

Pour the sauce into a canning jar and tie a decorative spoon onto the jar of sauce with a ribbon.

TRIPLE CHEESE BALL

Showcase the cheese in a clear gift box (available at craft stores). To make it special, add crackers and a decorative spreader.

TRIPLE CHEESE BALL

Makes: 4 (3-inch) balls

Hands-on time: 30 min.

Total time: 2 hrs.

2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1 (10-oz.) package sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 (4-oz.) packages crumbled blue cheese

½ small onion, diced

1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted and divided

2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley, divided

1. Process first six ingredients in a food processor 1 to 2 minutes until combined, stopping to scrape down sides.

2. Stir together cheese mixture, 1 cup pecans and ½ cup parsley; cover and chill 1 hour.

3. Shape cheese mixture into 4 (3-inch) balls or 4 (7-inch) logs.

4. Stir together remaining 1 cup pecans and 1½ cups parsley; roll balls in pecan mixture. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or cellophane.

PEPPERMINT BARK

Makes: 5 (½-lb.) gifts

Hands-on time: 20 min.

Total time: 2 hrs., 20 min.

1 (11-oz.) package peppermint candy

1½ (24-oz.) packages vanilla candy coating

1. Line a 12-x15-inch baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.

2. Place peppermint candy in a heavy zip-top plastic bag; pound with a mallet or rolling pin until coarsely chopped. Place candy pieces in a colander; shake over waxed paper to sift fine dust. Reserve larger peppermint pieces in the colander.

3. Melt candy coating according to package directions. Pour evenly over peppermint dust on waxed paper; spread to ¼-inch thickness. Sprinkle with reserved peppermint pieces; gently press peppermint into candy coating.

4. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours or until completely firm. Break or cut candy into pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool place up to 1 month.

Note: Use peppermint stick candy for best results.

ESPRESSO FUDGE SAUCE

Makes: 4 (8-oz.) gifts

Hands-on time: 7 min.

Total time: 7 min.

2 (12-oz.) packages semisweet chocolate morsels

¼ cup instant espresso

2 cups half-and-half

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until chocolate melts and sauce is smooth, stirring constantly; cool.

2. Pour sauce into half-pint containers. Cover and store in refrigerator up to 1 month.

Note: Serve warm over ice cream, cheesecake or pound cake.

CRANBERRY LIQUEUR

Makes: 4½ cups

Hands-on time: 10 min.

Total time: 3 weeks

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 (12-oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

3 cups vodka

1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool completely.

2. Process cranberries 2 minutes or until finely chopped. Combine sugar mixture and cranberries in a large bowl; stir in vodka.

3. Pour the vodka mixture into clean jars; secure with lids. Let stand 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking every other day.

4. Strain the cranberry mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Carefully pour liqueur into clean bottles or jars.

Note: Substitute in your favorite Cosmo recipe or serve with club soda and lime over ice.

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