by Chef Kendall Huff
Native Foods Cafe
Tis' that time of year, again. Time for last minute shopping, uncomfortable cocktail dresses and the evil task of wrapping presents. Its impossible…I KNOW! If you are anything like me, you wait and wait and wait…until 2 days before the big who ray, before realizing there is a new cousin now, or a girlfriend of an uncle that needs gifts also. Whatever the case may be, I’m never ready for this event. It’s almost like the day is earlier every year. This year is different. I have decided to take the Martha Stewart approach (without the fancy ankle wear). This way I can practice on my personal skill, and impress the family at the same time. Who isn’t trying to do that?
Last Minute Idea #1- Vegan Truffles!
These are super simple to make and you can add different flavors, colors and textures to them. If your Auntie likes almonds, chop some up and roll her truffles in that. Your Grand pappy like those Old School Ribbon Candies (only grandpa’s do) crush some of those up and roll his truffles in that!! It’s a personal yet creative gift that everyone will love and enjoy!! Maybe not share, but you’ll defiantly be the coolest gift giver this year!!
Native Foods Cafe uses this photo courtesy of the Herbivore Dinosaur, vegan food, vegan restaurant, vegan recipe.
3/4-cup raw cashews
3/4-cup cold water
16 ounces vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. Puree the cashews and water for 1-2 minutes until they make a heavy cream consistency.
2. In a saucepan, heat the oil and melt the chocolate over medium heat until smooth, turn the heat down until the chocolate is cool enough to work with, fold in the cashew cream. Don't let it bubble!
3. Pour into a fridge friendly container and let the mixture chill until it's easy to work with, about 2 hours or so.
4. Form into balls roll into nuts, candies, fill them with creams or fruits or dip back into melted chocolate!! They can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. Be sure to make extras…. testing each different flavor is a MUST!!!
Last Minute Idea #2- Spiced Marcona Almonds
Marcona almonds (the "Queen of Almonds" if you will) are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the California variety. They are tasty as is, or you can spice them up, purchase little holiday tins and snack on them by the fire, watching the Grinch or with a glass of wine. Makes a healthy and cute little snack. Whatever your tradition is, squeeze them in there and you won’t regret it!!
Spice it up:
2 cups- Marcona Almonds
1 tsp- Ground Cumin
1 tsp- Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp- Chopped Fresh Thyme
*Place everything in a mixing bowl and toss together to coat evenly. Looking for those tins to package them in? Try here. The Brookie Cookie.
Last Minute Ideas #3- Spearmint Brownies
This idea is brilliant. Who doesn’t like brownies? And spearmint ones at that? You can even use this idea for a little treat for everyone. Make a batch, toss them on a serving plate, garnish with some crushed spearmint candies and Walla!! Easy, fun and addictive. May want to make 2 batches!! They’ll go quick!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups organic granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-cup vegetable oil
1-teaspoon spearmint extract (mint will do also)
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and Salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil and spearmint; mix until well blended. Spread evenly in a 9x13 inch-baking pan.
3- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is no longer shiny.
4-Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Then sprinkle with chopped up spearmint candy canes!!
Happy Holiday Last Minute Gift Giving to ALL!!