Last Minute Holiday Gifts Plus
Fudgy Ginger-Nut Meringues
I have a few more gifts to tend to, but I’m determined to stay away from the malls during this last week before Christmas. Here are suggestions for three items that can be ordered to arrive in time and one extra special treat to prepare at home.
These naturally gluten-free goodies are crisp on the outside, gooey inside with a surprising hint of ginger. They are easy to make too. I’ve already baked one double batch; we took half to a dessert party, and stored the second half in a tin to serve to friends who stop in. Steve’s son was here the day I baked them, and many got eaten as we finished decorating our tree. The recipe is in my new book, Gluten-Free Baking
, and I’ve included it at the end of this post. So keep reading.
Cooking the Perfect Steak, A Craftsy Cooking Class
Food writer and good friend Bruce Aidells is an expert when it comes to the subject of cooking meat, and the recipes he created for Bon Appetit magazine were among my favorites. This clear cooking class video brings Bruce right into your home, as he teaches everything you want to know about selecting and cooking steaks. He first takes us to the meat counter to choose the best cuts, then brings them home and guides us through many preparations. There are recipes for sauces and side dishes too. Purchase this video for a friend so Bruce can show them how to prepare porcini-rubbed rib-eye steaks for Christmas dinner or grilled porterhouse steak with Spanish sweet pepper & chorizo butter for New Year’s Eve. Bruce even demonstrates tempting dishes to make with the leftovers. Most of the recipes are gluten free, too.
I recently discovered these gluten-free treats that are so chocolaty, buttery, and tender, no one would say: “good for the gluten-free bunch, but not for me.” These are for everyone. A clever cross between a cookie and muffin, hence the name, Cooffins are made with impeccable, natural ingredients—organic almonds, honey and eggs; Belgian chocolate; butter from grass fed beef..., Choose chocolate chip or dark chocolate double troubles, or get one box of each. Your friends will love these as much as Steve, Ethan and I do. If you order right away, they should arrive in time for Christmas.
I order two cases of this fruity, intensely flavored oil every fall, shortly after it is bottled. We keep a few bottles for ourselves—to drizzle over pasta, a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano or fresh burrata cheese—and we give many as gifts. It is crafted from the best pressings during the first few weeks of harvest, it is only available in the fall, has a fresh flavor and is best consumed within 9 months of harvest. Order by 5 pm on Friday for delivery by Christmas.
Don’t forget to bake a batch or two of these cookies, as gifts for friends or to serve Santa on Christmas Eve.
Fudgy Ginger-Nut Meringues
Makes about 20
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup minced crystallized ginger
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the egg whites. Using medium speed, beat until the whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly and taking about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt. Beat until very stiff and glossy and the meringue holds a peak when the beater is lifted straight up, about 2 minutes longer. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the hazelnuts and ginger, and then the melted chocolate (leave some white streaks for a marbled appearance).
Dab a bit of the batter on the backside of the parchment at the corners to secure the parchment to the baking sheet. Immediately drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until dry and crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 10 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool the cookies 10 minutes. Gently transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.
Photo of cookies on white platter by Annabelle Breakey