“Romance is the icing but love is the cake.” – Julia Child
It’s the thought that counts. Remember your mother telling you this after you’d just unwrapped the most hideous jumper EVER? Your eyes semi-glazed over in wonder, uncomprehensive and slightly shell-shocked that this item was even actually for sale somewhere? At this exact moment, you vow never to give a really bad gift.
Then life happens. You’re working, the kids and/or pets and partners have you on the go and you barrel through the shops at warp speed on Christmas Eve shoving gawd-knows-what into the trolley and paying extortionate amounts for gift wrapping service only to see your loved ones looking at you with the same wild-eyed look of horror you had way back when.
Well, no more, my friends! You can break the cycle of bad gift giving this holiday season by making delicious treats that are fun and easy, made with locally sourced ingredients, and come with the added bonus of being inexpensive and thoughtful!
If it’s the Thought That Counts, Make It Taste Good! #
To make homemade delights is as simple as opening your kitchen cabinets. Most of what you need is probably already there, and what isn’t only requires a quick trip to the market. You can use locally-sourced-when-possible items such as sea salt, almonds, figs, pomegranate, carob powder, oranges, lemons and honey to make some incredible creations. See? Simple as pie…or almond butter, carob bars, or fig jam!
In this article, we will give you a few ideas on what you can offer your loved to put smiles on their faces. Maybe there is a long-lost recipe of your grandmother’s lying around that you forgot about but used to love to make… now is the time to dig it out! Make this holiday hands-on! Here are our favourite recipes:
Three-Ingredient Carob Bars #
- In a bain-marie (double boiler), gently melt the cocoa butter until it is completely liquid.
- Next, whisk in the carob powder a little at a time until the mixture is completely combined. Be careful to not let the mixture become too hot to avoid the carob powder forming clumps that would be difficult to break up. Whisk until the mixture is as smooth as you can possibly make it.
- Then, add in the sunflower butter a Tbsp at a time. The oil from the nut butter will smooth out any small lumps that remain in the carob liquid.
- Finally, carefully spoon the mixture into a silicone mould with individual chocolate bars or simply pour the entire mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet with edges. These are important! You do not want the carob to pour off the edges of your pan!
- Once the carob "chocolate" is in the mould, let it sit at room temperature for about two hours to set. It should be no longer runny. Then, chill in the refrigerator until completely set, four to six hours. Store in the refrigerator.
The beauty of these bars is that they are sugar-free (yet still sweet) and vegan. They can also be nut-free if you opt to substitute the nut butter. Perfect for those loved ones with allergies or who are on strict diets.
Fig-tastic Festive Jam or Pomegranate Pop Jam #
This fig jam recipe is thick and spreadable but made without pectin or refined sugar. It’s fat-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly. It’s also a great way to use up those hundreds of figs from the tree in the garden (or a friend’s garden) – so, next year at harvest time you'll know what to do.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: You can substitute pomegranate for the figs, just use a bit less water as they are already juicy.
3 cups (about 400 g) local figs (or pomegranates)
1-2 tbsp local organic honey (2-3 for pomegranate jam)
Juice of one medium local orange (those from Sóller are best!)
1 cup (240ml) water
- · In a small saucepan (use a wide and shallow one), add the dried figs or pomegranate, honey, orange juice, and water. Let soak for an hour.
- Cover with a lid and place the saucepan over medium heat. Keeping cover on, cook for about 20 minutes, or until the figs are super soft and can be easily mushed with a fork. Let cool completely.
- Blend in a high-speed blender until a spreadable paste. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Homemade Almond Butter #
All the creamy yumminess of your favourite store-bought brand, but with the added kick of tasting like warm roasted almonds. This recipe can be spiced up to give it a holiday flair, but you can leave those ingredients out if you’re a purist. I use raw almonds and roast them myself; it’s not necessary to do, but warm almonds do tend to blend more easily and roasting only takes 10 minutes.
3 cups (450 g) raw or pre-roasted local almonds
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ vanilla extract
2 tbsp local organic honey
- Preheat the oven to 175°. Spread the almonds across a large, rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring halfway. Let them cool until they’re just warm (not hot), about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the almonds to a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until creamy, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. You’re going to think it’ll never blend, but be patient! The almonds will go from flour-like clumps, to a ball against the side of the food processor (keep scraping down the sides and breaking up the ball), and finally, it will turn lusciously creamy. If the mixture gets crazy hot along the way, stop and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Once the almond butter is very smooth and creamy (no sooner!), you can blend in the add-ins you would like.
- Blend until the add-ins are evenly dispersed. When I added maple syrup, I had to let the mixture cool, and then blend a few additional minutes, to make it creamy again.
Let the almond butter cool to room temperature, then transfer the mixture to a mason jar and screw on the lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or until you see or smell any signs of spoilage.
Candied Almonds #
SUCH a Christmas-y snack to give and SUCH a lovely one to receive!
2 cups (300 g) whole local almonds
½ cup (120 ml) water
1 cup (150g) organic sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Local Sea Salt Infused with Local Lemon or Orange Zest and Thyme #
This super easy recipe is a gift people will love all year. It’s fab in marinades, on meats and veg or just as a zesty replacement to regular table salt.
1 tbsp very finely grated lemon or orange zest
½ cup (60g) local sea salt
- Preheat oven to 110°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Stir together the salt and zest in a bowl, making sure no clumps of zest remain.
Spread the salt mixture onto the baking sheet and bake for an hour, or until zest is fully dried. Zest should crumble between your fingers. Store in airtight container for up to 6 months.
Lemon and Orange Marmalade #
During the 19th century, the name "Mallorca", and especially of Sóller, was a synonym for the citrus fruit they exported. This marmalade makes a wonderful gift, especially as this recipe takes only a fraction of the time of some others.
1 1/5 kg citrus (roughly 4 large oranges and 2 large lemons)
1 kg Jam Setting Sugar
- Remove zest from oranges and lemons and slice finely. Remove white pith and discard. Chop orange and lemon flesh coarsely.
- Put orange and lemon zest and flesh in a large heavy based saucepan and just barely cover with cold water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour - or until zest is soft to your liking. Leave fruit to cool slightly then measure out in cupfuls.
- Put an equal amount of fruit and Jam Setting Sugar (e.g. 4c fruit and 4c Jam Sugar) back into saucepan and bring to the boil stirring until sugar dissolves.
- Boil fruit for 4 minutes then test for set.
Once set to your liking, spoon/pour jam into clean sterilized jars and cover with lids.
Wrap It Up! #
To give your gifts that special touch, get nice tins, jars and cute paper bags with even cuter stickers to wrap your gifts. You'll sure get the pleasure of seeing a cherished friend’s face light up when they take the first bite of something wonderful! Your loved ones will thank you and so will your credit card! Merry Christmas!
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By Stephanie Horsman
5 December, 2020