Words Vicki Ravlich-Horan, Images Brydie Thompson
Nothing shows you care more than a handmade gift, even more so if that handmade gift is delicious.
A jar of dukkah or our herb salt (both recipes can be found in our latest cookbook) are always handy to have on hand if going to someone’s for dinner or needing to say thank you. Here are a couple of our favourite sweet ways to say thank you.
Caramel Popcorn Cashew Brittle
This recipe comes with a warning – it’s highly addictive! We recommend making a double batch, one to give and one to reward yourself for being so giving.
While it keeps fresh up to two weeks in an airtight container, we also advise giving it away as soon as you have finished making and packaging. Trust us, the temptation is real.
You need a candy thermometer for this recipe. Find these at Simply Divine Kitchens.
1¼ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp baking soda
3 cups of popped popcorn*
½ cup roasted and salted cashews, roughly chopped
Place the butter and sugar in a large pot. Heat and stir to melt the butter then allow it to bubble away until the mixture reaches hard candy stage or 180°C on a candy thermometer.
Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla, baking soda and then the popcorn and cashews.
Carefully pour onto a lined baking tray and spread out. Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces and placing into airtight jars.
*I used store bought lightly salted popcorn. If popping your own, add in a pinch or two of good sea salt, like Opito Bay Salt, when mixing in the popcorn.
Choc Almond Cookie Jar
The recipient of this jar of joy only needs 200g of butter to make a fresh batch of choc almond cookies. Another bonus of this recipe is it makes use of those jars you have been saving – a 850g jar is perfect and happens to be the size of Vetro’s range of Greek peaches.
In a clean dry jar layer in the following:
1 cup almond slices*
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup cocoa
Place a lid on and tie a bow around two dark chocolate Sante Bars (or 100g of chocolate) with a card containing the following instructions:
Makes 12–14 cookies
Melt 175g of butter. Add the contents of the jar and stir well.
Roll into golf ball size cookies, flattening them slightly as you place them on a lined baking tray.
Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
Once cool ice with ganache made from melting 25g of butter with 100g of chocolate.
*You can replace the almonds with coconut for a slightly cheaper version.
When I was a kid I loved making paper. This pared down version allows you to make really rustic recycled paper cards without the need for any special equipment. The addition of seeds into the paper before it dries allows the recipient to continue your recycling efforts by planting the card and having the seeds offer another gift for them to enjoy.
You will need:
Paper – we have a paper-only collection bin in the office and ripping up the bills is really cathartic! Using or adding in some colourful gift wrapping paper (yes I am that person at parties who whips the paper away after the gift has been unwrapped to use again) will give you cards an alternative shade to the grey of bills.
A large container
Chux cloths or similar
An old towel or a dish draining mat (just not a silicon one)
Thick kitchen sponge
Seeds – a wild flower mix is great, or for a more edible theme microgreen or salad mix seeds are also good.
Shred the paper into small pieces and place into a large container, covering with water. I used a 3 litre container and half filled this with torn paper before covering with water.
Leave to soak over night before placing in a blender, adding more water if needed. This will depend on how big and/or powerful your blender is.
Lay your towel down on the work surface. Lay a Chux cloth on the towel. Scoop out some of the paper pulp and spread this over the Chux cloth as thinly and evenly as possibly. Sprinkle over the seeds.
Lay a second Chux cloth on top and use the rolling pin to roll out the excess water and roll the paper as thin as possible. Once you have got rid of as much water as possible, remove the top Chux cloth and lay the sheet of fresh paper in a sunny spot to dry out and repeat with remaining paper pulp to make more sheets.
When the paper is completely dry, remove from the Chux cloth and cut to the desired shape.