I’m certain it was Maggie, founder of Eat Boutique, who turned me on to gifting food. Aside from trading turkeys made from Keebler Fudge Shoppe cookies, Rolos, and candy corns with neighbors growing up, the idea never crossed my mind. Two years ago, when we still lived on the east coast, we made the trek to Boston for Maggie’s annual Holiday Market. (Boston locals, it’s going on now! Details here.) The shelves of the market were filled with thoughtful, beautifully packaged, small batch food items. In that same spirit, Maggie recently published her first book, Food Gift Love. It’s full of homemade recipes for gifting—from pickled cucumbers to limoncello to candied blood orange rinds. I dog-eared her Salted Dark Caramel and prayed it was the caramel sauce recipe I’d been waiting for. The one I could actually replicate. It’s been my achilles heal since the first day I stepped foot in the kitchen. Not to sweet, almost burnt in flavor. That’s how she describes it. That’s also how my first successful caramel tasted. It worked!
Edible Gift Guide
I’ve said it before, I don’t shine when it comes to gift giving. I don’t plan ahead. I hate to be wasteful on gifts that will go unused. And my need to find the perfect gift is so paralyzing. It wasn’t until two years ago, after attending Maggie’s Holiday Market, that I started making big batches of my favorite recipes to gift. That’s when gift giving made sense. Because I’m forever forgetful, I keep a couple gifts on hand at anytime during the holidays. Here’s a couple recipes that make great gifts.
1. Salted Dark Caramel—See recipe below. Shelf life of 3-4 weeks in the fridge. 2. Kitchen Sink Bark— Shelf life of 1 week stored covered at room temperature. 3. Peppermint Mocha Syrup— Shelf life of 4 weeks in the fridge. 4. Chocolate Bread— Bake loaves in advance and store well packaged in freezer for up to 1 month. Gift frozen or thawed. 5. Peppermint Bark— Shelf life of 1 week stored covered at room temperature. 6. Maple Granola— Shelf life of 2 months stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Measure out all ingredients. Once the caramel turns, the recipes moves quickly so you’ll want everything ready. Read recipe through before beginning.
Into a tall pot (around 8″ in diameter), pour in sugar. Shake pot to position sugar in an even layer across the bottom. Turn the heat to medium-low. (I’ve found the most success cooking caramel low and slow. The pot will retain heat and continue to cook caramel even once turned down. It’s easier to control at a lower temperature.) After about 4-6 minutes, the sugar will begin to liquify. Shake the pot every 30 seconds or so until this happens. Once it begins to melt, gently stir the sugar to help it along in the melting process. It will look a bit like a frozen lake melting. Once completely melted, sugar will quickly turn amber in color. At the first barely burnt smell to hit your nose, remove from heat.
Quickly stir in butter a tablespoon at a time. The caramel with foam. Once melted through, pour in heavy cream. It will foam a bit more. Finally pour in salt. Stir well to incorporate and release the heat. If clumping occurs, return it to the heat for a second, stirring until they dissolve.
Being very careful, pour into jars to stop the caramel from cooking anymore. If you have tiny clumps remaining, pour through a sieve first. Allow to cool completely before covering. Store in fridge for 3-4 weeks.
• Use freshly bought heavy cream to get the maximum shelf life out of the caramel.
Recipe Card powered by
Packaging details: Buy 6oz. jars and plaid napkins from Target. Cut the napkin into fourths. Using a bit of craft glue, run a tiny bit around the outer edge of the lid. Place the napkin square on top. Carefully press down the sides to adhere to the glue. Place a rubberband around the lid for a couple minutes. Meanwhile, tie bakers twine twice around the outside of the lid. Knot and trim excess. Trim off excess napkin at the base of the lid. Remove rubberband. Using sticker or label paper, cut a thin rectangular label. Write on label. Adhere to lid and jar.