Vail’s Simply Seasonal: Homemade treats make great gifts anytime |

Vail’s Simply Seasonal: Homemade treats make great gifts anytime

Sue Barhamnewsroom@vaildaily.comVAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

I groaned. Entering the post office, I juggled my short but heavy stack of parcels and counted 15 people in the line ahead of me. I thought I had timed my errand perfectly, in the holiday rush of shopping, wrapping and shipping. Should I come back later? Wait, the line was moving!When it was my turn at the window, I was glad I stayed. The clerk was pleasant – cheerful, even. She praised my smart use of the flat-rate boxes, chatting in friendly fashion. “You saved about $20!” she said in a conspirator’s tone. Upon my request, she displayed the variety of holiday stamps available, waiting for my selection with affable patience. Thanking her, I glanced at the clock on the wall, and realized my entire time in the post office had been nine minutes! Now that’s service. And it made me wonder, how do I show my appreciation for the multitude of service providers I encounter on a regular basis? What better time to do so than during the hectic holiday season?Consider a homemade treat – wrapped in a pretty tin or jar. The possibilities are endless, from cookies to candies, spiced nuts to brittles. I asked Cima’s pastry chef, Bill Fitzgerald, to share a few recipes that are quick, easy and can be made in big batches for great gift giving.Can’t squeeze in the time this week? Not to worry, these tasty treats will surprise and delight any time of the year. What a gratifying way to say thanks to an unassuming someone. Candied pecans1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons honey1 Tablespoon water1 pound pecans (or other nuts, or a combination)1/2 cup sugar in the raw1/2 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon allspicePreheat oven to 350. Combine honey and water; heat together in microwave or double boiler to syrup consistency and pour into large bowl. Add nuts, tossing to combine. Continue tossing till all syrup is coating the nuts. Toss the sugar, cinnamon, salt and allspice together, then pour over nuts and mix well. Spread on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 5 minutes, stir to separate and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons more sugar in the raw. Bake 5 minutes more, mix up and transfer to clean sheet pan with clean parchment, stir occasionally while cooling to prevent “clumping”. Makes 1 pound.Dark chocolate truffles with honey and lime1 teaspoon finely grated lime peel2/3 cup sugar1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder8 ounces heavy cream1/2 teaspoon lime peel7 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate7 1/2 ounces Columbian chocolate (65%)1/4 cup lime juice1/4 cup honey6 Tablespoons butterSpread cocoa powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon lime peel on a sheet pan and allow to dry overnight. Heat cream to almost boiling, reduce to simmer. Add 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime peel and steep for 10 minutes. Chop chocolates and place in a bowl. Return cream to a boil, pour over chocolates and stir until smooth. Heat lime juice and honey over low heat, stir into chocolate, add butter 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing to incorporate. Chill until firm, scoop and roll into balls. (may be placed briefly in freezer to firm if necessary). Roll in dry cocoa mixture, store airtight in refrigerator. Makes 36.Macadamia brittle1/2 cup corn syrup1 cup sugar1 cup macadamia nuts3/4 teaspoon baking soda1/8 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon vanilla2 ounces butterCombine the corn syrup and sugar in a saucepot and heat to 255 (use candy thermometer). Add nuts, and cook, stirring to 300. Remove from heat and mix in baking soda and salt. Add vanilla and butter and pour mixture onto rimmed cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper. Spread to desired thickness and allow to cool. Break into pieces.Sue Barham is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Cima, now open in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. The newest restaurant concept from internationally acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval, Cima is a contemporary Latin kitchen, featuring bold, vibrant flavors with Latino roots, created with fresh ingredients and global cooking techniques.

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