easy homemade food gifts

Sesame Salt

Sesame Salt

During the holidays, homemade gifts are always nice. Not every gift has to be a dessert or something sweet. This sesame salt is a lovely gift for almost anyone.

Once you taste sesame salt, I think you will love it as much as I do. I use it on all sorts of veggies, meats, pasta, potatoes and more. I love it on popcorn!!!

It is a nice alternative to regular table salt. Sesame salt adds great flavor to all sorts of foods. It is also is lower in sodium than plain salt.

You start by toasting sesame seeds. I just place the sesame seeds in a skillet and toast, on top of the stove, over medium heat, until golden brown. You can also toast them in the oven, but they burn easily. You do want to watch them carefully. As soon as they start to change color, turn down the heat or remove them from the heat.

Once the seeds are toasted, you add salt and a few other ingredients (onion, garlic, paprika, pepper). Use whatever salt you like. I use sea salt. Feel free to play around with flavors you add your sesame salt. I add a little smoked paprika, which gives the sesame salt a nice, smoky flavor.

I powder the mixture in a spice mill/coffee grinder. You can also use a blender to grind it up.

Sesame salt can be kept on the table in a shaker, just like salt. I use a shaker with slightly larger holes- I have one of those cheese shaker jars that works well. I often include a shaker when I give someone sesame salt.

Sesame Salt

1 c. sesame seeds

1/4 c. salt – I like sea salt- use the salt you like

1 t. each paprika and smoked paprika

1 t. onion powder

1/4 t. pepper

1/4 t. garlic powder

In a skillet, over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, stirring or tossing to cook evenly until seeds are light brown. Stir in salt and cook 5 minutes more. Cool mixture completely and add remaining ingredients. Process in blender or spice grinder until mixture in powdered. Makes 3/4 c. Excellent with vegetables, stir-fries, salad dressings etc.

Sesame salt in a cheese shaker

Giant Peanut Butter Cup

Giant Peanut Butter Cup

Keeping the theme of homemade gifts going this week, I thought I would share this recipe. You might want to try your hand at making a giant peanut butter cup. It takes a bit of effort, but is not really hard to make. It also makes a fun gift.

I’ve made small ones in the past, so I knew the basic structure. Using a 10-inch tart pan offered different challenges, but I went ahead and gave it a try.

I wasn’t worried about the components. I had good quality dark chocolate and peanut butter. I knew it would taste good. I wasn’t so sure it would stay in one piece.

It worked, and here is the result. I used a pretty good amount of chocolate. You could probably use less, but I wanted the chocolate thick enough on the bottom the make it sturdy. I also used a slightly altered version of the filling I use when I make buckeyes. I am pleased with how it came out.

Here is how I did it.

 Giant Peanut Butter Cup

1- 1½ lbs. chocolate – I used a nice quality dark chocolate

1½ c. peanut butter

1 stick (½ cup )  butter, softened

2 ½ c. powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla

You will need a tart pan with a removable bottom. I used a 10-inch pan, but a 9- inch pan would work, too. Cover the removable bottom of the tart pan with wax paper. It will make it easier to get the thing out in one piece later. I cut out a square and just folded the extra wax paper under the pan and taped it down. Melt the chocolate and pour enough of it into the bottom of the tart pan that you can cover the bottom generously. Use a small spoon to push chocolate up the sides of the pan.

Now at this point you could just keep tipping the pan to get the chocolate evenly coated inside. I know my limitations. I just pictured myself dropping the pan of melted chocolate, so I used the spoon method instead. The important thing is that the entire inside gets a coating of chocolate. Place pan in fridge to cool and chocolate to set up. Meanwhile, in medium bowl mix peanut butter and butter together until well mixed. Stir in sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth. Spread this mixture over the chocolate shell. Don’t press too hard. You don’t want to break the shell. I will confess that before I added the peanut butter, I played around with loosening the chocolate shell. I was worried it would not come out later. After I added the peanut butter mixture, I put it back in the fridge to firm up. Once the peanut butter mixture was chilled, I melted the rest of the chocolate and poured it over the top.

I used a lot of chocolate in the base and needed to melt more chocolate than I originally planned on. I do think the thicker shell helped when it came time to get it out of the tart pan.

To remove the peanut butter cup- make sure it is completely hardened. I gently pulled at the sides all around the edges of the tart pan, to loosen it. Then I pushed up on the removable bottom of the pan. After a few gentle pushes, it came out. I had to trim a little chocolate off the bottom when removing the wax paper, but it helped in getting the peanut butter cup out in one piece.

Spread peanut butter mixture over chocolate shell

Spread peanut butter mixture over chocolate shell

Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter filling

Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter filling

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