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(jazz music) – Hey guys, the holidays are approaching and you’re probably thinking about all the gifts you have to give. I know that it can really add up and get expensive, not to mention time-consuming, so today I’m gonna show you three food gift ideas that will come together quickly and inexpensively. I’ll also show you some cute ways to package these gifts up so they look extra special.
So first up, I’m gonna show you how to make a classic nut brittle. I love a peanut brittle because it’s pretty cost-effective, because peanuts are pretty inexpensive. However, if you wanted to get extra fancy you could use mixed nuts, cashews, pecans, whatever nut you like will do. Now before you begin, you wanna make sure that you have a rimmed cookie sheet that’s been well greased, and a heat safe spatula that’s also been greased. You can just set that aside and we’re gonna use that in a minute. So in a deep saucepan, you’re gonna add two and a half cups of plain white sugar, 1/4 cup of water, six tablespoons of unsalted butter. I know it’s a lot of butter, but this is what’s gonna get our peanut brittle to have a really rich and buttery taste. A half a cup of light corn syrup, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then you’re gonna set this mixture to boil, and you can stir it as it’s heating to make sure that all of those ingredients are nice and combined. And then once it does start to boil, you’ll see the little bubbles will appear along the side, you then wanna insert a candy thermometer. So a candy thermometer is a great thing to have because you really wanna make sure that this mixture gets up to 302 degrees. If it doesn’t get up that high, you’re gonna end up with more like taffy, so it is a good thing to use. And in fact on most candy thermometers, it’ll say 302, hard crack. Now this’ll take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, so just be patient and don’t walk away from this mixture because it’s extremely hot and could be dangerous, so you do wanna make sure that you’re right there with it. And then once it does reach that temperature you can remove the thermometer, and you’re gonna add a teaspoon of baking soda. And the baking soda is going to allow that candy to also break, so it’s another important ingredient. And then you’re also gonna add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Now you wanna work quickly because this mixture will start to harden. So once you give it a stir, then you wanna quickly add the peanuts, and be mixing this mixture to make sure that all of those peanuts are well coated, and that this sugar mixture you don’t see any bubbles at the top, that it’s actually calming down and becoming more of a syrup. Then you’re gonna transfer this onto your greased cookie sheet. And then you’re going to take your greased spatula and press it down into a single layer. And then the other thing I like to do is add a little bit more fleur de sel sea salt on top, just so that it sets in there. It’s a really great combination between the sweet and the salty. And then you’re gonna let this rest for 40 minutes. And once you do you’ll be able to pick it up, and it’ll be one big mass. And sometimes what I like to do is take a paper towel and just kind of brush off the bottom of it so that it’s not too greasy from all the butter that was greasing the pan. And then you can go ahead and just break it into large shards. And then to package the brittle, we’re gonna place it in one of these to go containers. I really like the parchment color because I think there’s something beautiful and simple about it. So to our container we’re gonna add a nice, beautiful, gold ribbon. I like to use the ribbon that have wire on it because it’ll help you create a really nice bow. And then to that we’re also gonna add some gold-dipped pine cones. And that just takes our little parchment box and makes it so extra fancy and festive. One gift down, next gift I’m gonna show you how to make is some homemade granola. I love this idea because homemade granola is always better than store-bought granola. So when you’re making these gifts, make sure you make a batch for yourself. So in a large bowl we’re going to add three egg whites. To that you’re also gonna add half a cup of honey, three tablespoons of brown sugar, two teaspoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of ground cloves, a tablespoon of fresh orange zest, and one tablespoon of the fresh orange juice.
And then to that you’re gonna add four cups of old-fashioned oats. Now don’t go getting those quick cooking oats, that’s not gonna work for this. You actually need the old-fashioned. Two cups of chopped pecans. And 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds. Then you’re gonna mix that all up until it’s very well combined. Don’t cheat on this step, because you do wanna make sure that all of that egg mixture is adhering well to the oats and the nuts. Now you do wanna take this mixture and separate it and put it onto two trays. That way it’ll really have a way to toast well and crisp up. If you put it all on one tray, it’s not gonna actually do that and you’ll end up having granola that actually doesn’t get hard. And we’re gonna pop this in a 350 degree oven for just 10 minutes. So one tray will go on the bottom and one tray will go on the top. You don’t wanna stir your granola at this stage. You do wanna just let it toast and let it go the full 10 minutes. And at that stage you’re gonna take your trays out. So you’re gonna take a cup and a half of dried cranberries, and sprinkle them on each tray. And then give your granola a toss. And then you’re gonna take the tray that was on the top and put it on the bottom, and the tray that was on the bottom and put it on the top, and go for another 10 minutes. Now once your granola is done your house will be filled with the most delicious holiday aroma. And you’ll be happy you made a batch for yourself. And then once it’s completely cool you can package it up. And the way that I like to give this granola is to have a bit of a nature-lover’s theme. So I take a mason jar, fill it with some of the granola. And then I like to take a black and red flannel fabric that you can just buy at your craft store, and then cut it with some pinking shears, just for a nice decorative edge. And then I like to fasten this with a rubber band just to hold it in place. And then I like to tuck in a little bit of some faux evergreen that comes with like a little pine cone and a berry. And then to hide the rubber band, you can use some rope twine and just fasten it into a nice little knot. And tuck the ends into the twine itself. And then to finish it off, I like to tuck in a little red cardinal, having him perched there on top of the evergreen. I think it’s a nice touch. So there you have it, second gift down. This’ll be a great one for anybody who spends a lot of time in the outdoors. And then lastly, I’m gonna show you how to make a really simple Christmas cookie, a palmier. A palmier or an elephant ear you may have heard it called, is a classic French cookie that really is so simple to put together because it only takes three ingredients. You’re gonna use some store-bought puff pastry, some white sugar, and a little bit of salt. So this recipe makes enough for 30 cookies, so you’re gonna need two sheets of puff pastry to get the 30 cookies. And in total we’re gonna use about a cup and a half of sugar, but for each puff pastry sheet you’re gonna use about 3/4 cup. Now this sounds like a ton of sugar, and it kind of is, but it does take that amount of sugar in order for the cookies to caramelize. So taking our 3/4 cup, we’re gonna mix in 1/4 teaspoon of salt. You can stir that up with a fork. And then you’re gonna take half that amount, put it on your cutting board, and then put your sheet of puff pastry down, and then you’re gonna take the other half and sprinkle it on the top. And basically what you wanna do is with a rolling pin, go in and roll in that sugar into your puff pastry, so it’s really sealing on both sides. Okay so here comes the tricky part. It’s not that hard, it’s just a little tricky the first time you do it. So when you make these cookies you may wanna read this blog again, and that way we can do it together. Okay, so here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna take the two sides of the pastry. We’re gonna fold it in so that they meet in the middle. Then we’re gonna take those sides and fold them again, so they meet in the middle. And then you’re gonna take one side and flop it over the other side like a book, and then you’ll see you have like a little log on your hands. And basically what we’ve done is created six layers of pastry. You with me? Okay. So now we are going to slice this log into 1/2 inch slices. And then you’re gonna put it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. And when you slice them they’re gonna look a little flopsy, and that’s okay because they’re gonna puff up and shape up in the oven. But basically you wanna just kind of help it along so that it has the shape of a heart. You should get anywhere from 15 to 16 pieces out of one log. And then you’re gonna place these in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes to start, and then you’ll see they’ll start to become golden brown around the sides, and they would have puffed up and then you’ll see what I mean about expanding. And then you want to now go in and flip them with a thin spatula so that they can get golden brown and caramelized on the other side. Then you’re gonna let these bake for another two to three minutes on the other side, just until they’re nice and golden brown. You do want these to cool completely before you start to package them up. And then what I like to do is to take one of those little clear treat bags, and if you get the size that’s four inches by two inches by nine and a half inches, it is the perfect dimension for these little palmiers. They just fit snugly right in there. And I typically will add anywhere from six to eight cookies per package, and then you can take a little rubber band and fasten the package, which will make it easier when you go to decorate it. And then I like to take some red yarn, and a little red baker’s twine, and threat it through a nice gift tag, you know where you just put the thread in, make a loop, and then fasten it tight? That’s the best way I think to put together a gift tag,, ’cause it’ll lay flat. And then on top of the gift tag I like to fasten some little berries. And then you can go ahead and tie that around your little package, and you have an adorable little cookie set ready to give. So out of one package of store-bought puff pastry, and some sugar and salt, which you probably already have laying around, you can make four little gifts. So there you have it, three easy food gift ideas that anybody would love to receive this time of year. I hope you guys give one of these a try, and let me know how it turns out, and I will see you back here next week for another Holiday Helper episode. Until then, bye! ♫ Jingle bells jingle bells ♫ Jingle all the way ♫ Oh what fun it is to ride ♫ In a one-horse open sleigh ♫ Jingle bells, jingle bells ♫ Jingle all the way ♫ Oh what fun it is.