Some people are just REALLY DIFFICULT to find presents for, don’t you think? Let’s face it, we’re all lucky enough to have more or less everything we need, so we have a bit of an unwritten rule in our family that gifts have to be useful (and/or useable), and I think edible gifts fit really well into this category, so when Ryvita Thins set me the challenge of creating a Christmas gift hamper, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. If you have friends and family that are real foodies, this is such a lovely idea: a gift of inspiration, and the starting point to easy Christmas nibbles if they’re entertaining over the festive season (or just lovely snackage for in front of the TV if they’re not).
To create your hamper is so easy: just think of your perfect party! My hamper included red wine and Christmassy spices to create the perfect mulled wine, as well as crackers, various nibbles and the ingredients to make my favourite party snacks for Christmas: Ryvita thins with delicious, creamy Camembert and a sweet, spicy, tart, zingy cranberry, apple and chilli jam to go on top. I used one chilli to give the jam a gentle warmth, but if you want it a bit more fiery, feel free to add another chilli – or two! Here’s how to make the jam:
Cranberry, apple and chilli jam
300g cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 large Bramley apple
1 red chilli
1 satsuma, juice and zest
250g caster sugar
60ml cider vinegar
Chop the apple (don’t bother peeling or anything, the pulp is going to be strained). You will need to deseed and chop the chilli as you want the heat to permeate through the whole jam.
Pop the cranberries, chopped apple, chilli, satsuma zest and juice and the cloves into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries start to soften and give up their juice. Once there’s a bit of liquid there, you can pop on a lid and leave it for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the fruit is very soft.
Now, pile the mixture into a metal sieve that’s been placed over a bowl, and squish the mixture through the sieve (I use the back of a ladle), scraping the underneath of the sieve with a clean spoon.
Clean the pan, then put the pulp back on the heat, adding the cider vinegar and the sugar. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick. Pour into sterilised jars, then just allow to cool, label and add to your festive hamper.
To serve, just take one of your favourite Ryvita Thins (I prefer multi-seed, for extra texture, but they also come in cheddar and cracked black pepper, caramelised onion and sundried tomato, and herb) then add a generous, melty slice of creamy Camembert, and top with a spoonful of cranberry, apple and chilli jam. Heaven. Wander round your Christmas party with a plate piled with these beauties (no sweating over sausage rolls) and you’re going to be a really popular hostess. Or just keep them all to yourself, I won’t tell!