Mother's Day: Easy-to-make food gifts mom will love

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There’s such a connection when you give your mother something you made for Mother’s Day. Don’t fret if you don’t have time to knit an afghan or embroider a tea towel. Edible gifts are quicker to make than craft projects and customizable to any taste. If Mom is a baker, set her up with a trio of homemade extracts. If she has a sweet tooth, give her a bucket of caramel popcorn. Sea salt spiked with herbs will spice up her dinners. Homemade chai spice tea mix will be waiting for her when she comes home from yoga class.

The following projects are as simple to make as a macaroni necklace, and they taste better, too:

Herb-infused Honey

HERB-INFUSED HONEY 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh thyme,
(Credit: Doug Young)

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender, washed and allowed to air-dry completely
8 ounces honey

HOW TO:

Place the herbs in an 8-ounce jar. Cover the herbs with the honey, stirring to coat the leaves and pop any air bubbles. Cover tightly and let stand at room temperature until the honey is infused with herb flavor, about 3 to 5 days. Herb-infused honey will keep indefinitely in a cool, dry place. Makes 2 cups.

White Chocolate Bark With Candied Violets and Rose Petals

WHITE CHOCOLATE BARK WITH CANDIED VIOLETS AND ROSE
(Credit: Doug Young)

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
0.5 ounce candied violets (available from Amazon)
0.5 ounce candied rose petals (available from Amazon)

HOW TO:

1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.

2. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on low, removing every 30 seconds and stirring with a rubber spatula, until about two-thirds of the chocolate is melted, 2 to 3 minutes depending on the power of your microwave. Remove from microwave and continue to stir until remaining pieces are fully melted.

3. Use a small metal spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the violets and rose petals. Let stand until solid, about 45 minutes. Break into pieces before packing in an airtight container. Makes about 3/4 pound candy.

Chai Spice Tea

CHAI SPICE TEA1/2 cup loose black tea1/4 cup
(Credit: Doug Young)

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

1/2 cup loose black tea
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
4 whole cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon cardamom pods

HOW TO:

Combine the tea, ginger, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, peppercorns and cardamom in a bowl. Spoon into an airtight container. Tea will keep at cool room temperature for up to 1 year. Makes about 1 1/3 cups spice mix.

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Caramel Cashew Coconut Popcorn

CARAMEL CASHEW COCONUT POPCORN6 cups popped popcorn (from
(Credit: Doug Young)

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

6 cups popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
1 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsweetened large flake coconut
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 

HOW TO:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the popcorn, cashews and coconut on the prepared baking sheet.

2. Combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a heavy pot. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, and then continue to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and baking soda.

3. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir to coat. Bake, stirring several times, until the popcorn is crisp and dry, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheet. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container up to 1 week before serving. Makes about 6 cups caramel popcorn.

Infused Extracts

For these, ask Dad to pour the vodka.
(Credit: Doug Young)

VANILLA EXTRACT

3 whole vanilla beans
1/2 cup vodka, bourbon or rum

1. Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and place in a tall 4-ounce bottle.

2. Pour the vodka over the beans, making sure they are completely submerged. Let stand until the alcohol is completely infused, 1 to 2 weeks, before using. Homemade vanilla extract will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 years. Makes 1/2 cup.
 
COFFEE EXTRACT

1/4 cup whole coffee beans
1/2 cup vodka

1. Place coffee beans in a zipper-lock bag and pound lightly with a rolling pin to crack, but not crush. Place beans in a tall 4-ounce bottle. Pour vodka over beans, close and shake.

2. Let stand at  room temperature, shaking once a day, until the alcohol is completely infused, about 1 week. Homemade coffee extract will keep in a cool, dry place up to 3 years. Makes 1/2 cup.
 
HAZELNUT EXTRACT


1/4 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts
1 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cup vodka

1. Place the nuts and vanilla bean in a tall 8-ounce bottle.

2. Pour the vodka over the nuts and bean, making sure they are completely submerged. Let stand until the alcohol is completely infused, 3 to 4 weeks. Homemade hazelnut extract will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 years. Makes 1/2 cup.

Note: If you’re too young to handle the vodka in these recipes, ask Dad to help.

Flavored Sea Salts

FLAVORED SEA SALTSSMOKED PAPRIKA SALT1/2 cup fine sea
(Credit: Doug Young)

SMOKED PAPRIKA SALT

1/2 cup fine sea salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, paprika, oregano and thyme. Transfer to an airtight container. Makes 1/2 cup.
 
HERBES DE PROVENCE SALT

1/2 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup herbes de Provence

In a small bowl, whisk together the salt and herbs. Transfer to an airtight container. Makes 1/2 cup.
 
CURRY-LIME SALT

1/2 cup sea salt
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons curry powder

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the salt and lime zest over the parchment and bake until the zest is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely, stir in the curry powder and transfer to an airtight jar. Makes 1/2 cup.

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