Christmas Hampers..

ok I wasn't first to say the C word here!!

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gingerfurball    pirate
25/10/2011 at 12:25
I'm making up hampers for our extended families for Christmas....here's the place to share your tips and ideas...

What I have planned is:

Homemade...
Fudge
Peppermint ice
Truffles
Sloe gin
Mulled wine syrup
and then chuck in a bottle of wine....

We're also making some decorations...orange pomanders, lavender stuffed hearts and stars, pom pom garlands, cinnamon sticks and ribbon.

Any more ideas??

Also a cheap source of bottles for the sloe gin and the syrup?

I'm making the sloe gin this weekend...my mum and dad picked me 1.5 pounds of sloes the other day!

25/10/2011 at 12:28

Home made chutney?  I have a recipe for a very good chutney.

Home made lime marmalade - much nicer than shop stuff.

A small(ish), iced, Christmas cake?

gingerfurball    pirate
25/10/2011 at 12:33
Oh marmalade would be nice...a neighbour of ours gives us Christmas cake (this year he's given us 2 so far...payment in kind for when MrGFB helped him out in his garden when the neighbour's knees were bad) - I was thinking about quartering them and putting them in too...I have six hampers to make up.
25/10/2011 at 12:34
We did this last year and will be doing it again this year. The reaction was pretty good.

You could make hedgerow jelly, there are still a few blackberries and crabapples out there.

Once you take the sloes out of the sloe gin, you can make them into sloe gin truffles. Or sloe gin jam.

Rose-hip syrup might be an idea, it's crammed with vit C and is a natural anti-inflam. It goes well over ice-cream, a nice mixer with rum or just have it diluted with hot water.

Biscuits are good too. We made shortbread Christmas trees, Amaretti biscuits and cheese biscuits. This year we'll also be doing Christmas biscuits for tree decorations.

Fruits in alcohol go down well too.

25/10/2011 at 12:34

Individual Chrstmas puddings are dead easy to do.  Tesco's do some individual pudding moulds that are ideal.  3 hours steaming for the initial cook and then only needs another half hour or so to warm through.

I was just about to start googling to see how to make individual Christmas cakes- I don't know how the cooking time would vary from making a conventional large one.

gingerfurball    pirate
25/10/2011 at 12:37
Great ideas

Any idea how to get the cheap preserving bottles? Cheapest I can see if about £4 each x6 x post and package (to Northern Ireland) so not a cheap gift.

I've ordered 20m of cellophane off amazon for a fiver
25/10/2011 at 12:38

<sneaks in and adds name to GFB's family>

You could also chocolate-coat nuts and top them with crystalised flowers.

Marzipan shapes?

Pine cones make nice decorations too.

25/10/2011 at 12:41
GFB, have you looked at Wares of Knutsford? I did lots of research on the cheapest places for jars and bottles when I started my business back in the Summer. Wares hold a wide range of bottles, but Jam Jar Shop is cheapest.

For gifts tho I tend to recycle old bottles. A good soak to get the label off, then perhaps go over the bottle with some sticky stuff remover (Lakalend, or Amazon).
25/10/2011 at 12:45
A friend of mine makes individual sized Christmas cakes for people who live on their own and don't want a big one.  She makes a standard square cake then cuts it up before decorating.  That way you don't need to change the recipe at all.  She then decorates each one individually and personalises them for the person they are going to.
25/10/2011 at 12:52

Wilkinsons sometimes have things like bottles and jars, pretty cheap.

Good idea on the cake, SC!

I have cooked small ones occasionally, using a small bowl to cook it in - I think I gave it an hour or two.  Just keep and eye on it and stab it with a skewer from time to time, cover it with brown paper to keep it from burning.

Biscotti are good - very cruchy and full of almonds, they keep very well. 

25/10/2011 at 12:53
Oh, and buttered brazils. 
25/10/2011 at 13:01
... and lebkuchen  also works well.
25/10/2011 at 13:42

I've been making small Christmas cakes for years - I bought some mini loaf tins that work really well, but I've also make them in muffin tins. I did muffin-sized cakes on Sunday with surplus cake mixture. I didn't adjust for the large tin size so made too much - the muffins will not make it until Christmas

You don't have to alter the recipe at all, just reduce the cooking time down. It's dificult to say exactly because it depends on the size of the tins, but 1-2 hours is usually plenty. Just jab them a few times with a skewer until they're done.

+1 for re-using jars. It's far more economical and green (recycling is fun! ) and if you ask people to donate jars you'll soon have a mountain of them to use. You can always print labels for them, tie them with ribbon, etc. to make them pretty.

I think a mix of sweet and savoury is good. So chutneys/pickles as well as jams, and maybe some savoury biscuits - oatcakes/ herbed shortbread (rosemary is really nice).  

Edited: 25/10/2011 at 13:43
25/10/2011 at 13:48

Thanks for all the pointers on mini-cakes.  I'll start soaking the fruit this evening. 

IIRC someone told me one year they'd bought xx jars of Tesco value lemon curd as a way of sourcing jars.

More ideas/details on individual Xmas cake

http://club.omlet.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=72061

gingerfurball    pirate
25/10/2011 at 13:53
Anyone got a tried and tested sloe gin recipe? I was just going to google.
25/10/2011 at 13:56
I had a hideous sloe gin hangover at the weekend.  I'll check with the hostess as to what her recipe is (it was very nice and a little too more-ish).
25/10/2011 at 14:10
I shall be including some chocolate dipped candy orange slices and a christmas based spicy meat rub of herbs etc.
25/10/2011 at 14:18

I think i've found my home for the next couple of months! I'm trying to make a hamper this year for my extended family but having been running short on ideas!

@Wilkie - could you pass over your chutney recipe?

I was thinking of making packs of homemade biscuits and jams in a nice box. I've been saving up my old jam jars especially

25/10/2011 at 14:25

Good place for jars

I'm very impressed with all this organising - we're not good at making stuff but do have lots of chutney at the moment so could maybe do my parents a chutney hamper.

I'll confess that a couple of years ago we brought a small one for the MiL as she is so hard to buy for.  There are still 2 individual puds tucked in her biscuit cupboard (we check what she needs before we take her shopping as her list is not always reliable).  It does mean that I have a small hamper though as she was having a clear out and gave it to Mr USB to get rid of

25/10/2011 at 14:50
Sloe gin and other fruity liquors

 Take about a kilo of plums, damsons, sloes etc. With plums damsons and cherries, stone a dozen of them, put stones to one side. Prick the fruit extensively with a darning needle. Put into a large jar with about 1litre of 40% (must be at least 40%) gin, vodka or brandy, and 250g of granulated sugar (adjust according to taste, less if you prefer it less sweet). If using plums, damsons or cherries, add the previously stoned fruit and smash the stones, adding these too. Shake for a bit and then leave on a warm window sill for two-three weeks, shaking every day for a week or so, or until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to mature for as long as you can, around 2-3 months ideally, before straining the liquor and removing the fruit.

Don't discard the fruit. It makes a very tasty compote apparently, tho I fear I wouldn't be terribly productive if I splashed it on my morning porridge. The fruit can also be used in chocolates too.
Edited: 25/10/2011 at 14:51
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