Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kid Chef Holiday Giveaway & Edible Gifts

It's been a terrific year empowering young folks in the kitchen. Happily, Kid Chef is actually making a mark on people of all ages, giving countless people new adventures in cooking! To celebrate, my publisher is hosting a special holiday giveaway…. It's the perfect gift for the kid on your list who loves to cook. 

*Feed your Kid Chef's Curiosity* Giveaway: order your young one - or another budding chef in your life - a holiday copy of Kid Chef and be entered to win a kid-friendly cooking kit, complete with BPA-free mixing bowls, measuring cups+spoons, kitchen timer, and a kid-size chef's apron. Click here for all the details. When you place your order and forward confirmation, you’re automatically entered to win! Giveaway ends this Saturday, December 17th, at 11:59pm EST. Good luck and happy cooking!

For this holiday season, I am sharing good food with family and friends, with the understanding that handmade and delicious makes all hearts full. 

For some lucky folks, I made membrillo - aka quince paste - using my friend Leda Meredith's recipe. 

In late summer, I infused a nice brandy with local wild black cherries. I made dark chocolate truffles and added some of the fragrant liqueur while mixing together these heady treats.

The great thing about both of these edible gifts is that they'll keep in the refrigerator for a while. Which means, in the midst of the rest of holiday plans and prep, you can parcel the process into manageable bits, making truly wow-factor gifts without coming up depleted. It's a win-win for everyone… :)

makes enough for 9 x 11 pan

3 1/2 pounds quinces
2 pounds granulated sugar

Wash and peel the quinces, reserving the peels. Core them, adding the cores to the reserved peels. Chop the remaining quince into approximately 2-inch chunks. Tie the peels and cores up in cheesecloth or in a clean muslin bag.

Put the chunks of quince and the bundle of peels and cores into a large pot. Add water to cover by approximately 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the quince chunks are mushy-soft.

Remove and discard the bundle of peels and cores. Strain the remaining cooked quince through a very fine meshed strainer or a double layer of cheesecloth set in a colander (you can use the liquid that strains out to make quince jelly). Leave the quince to strain for 1-2 hours.

Puree the strained quince mash in a food processor or run through a food mill. Weigh or measure the puree, then transfer it to a large pot. Add an equal amount by weight of granulated sugar.

Cook over low heat until very thick, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Stir constantly initially, to dissolve the sugar, and frequently after that. 

When it is done the quince paste will stick to a wooden spoon, and if you drag the spoon over the bottom of the pot it will leave a rut that does not fill in immediately with the quince. Be careful towards the end of the cooking time to stir often, so that it doesn't burn.

Lightly grease a 9 x 11 inch baking dish. Spread quince paste in the dish, smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon. It should be about 1 1/2-inches thick. Let the paste cool in the baking dish.

Dry the paste in your oven at the lowest setting, not higher than 125F/52C, for 8 hours or overnight. If your oven doesn't go this low, prop its door open with a dishtowel or the handle of a wooden spoon. 

The surface should be glossy, not sticky to the touch. Place the quince paste in its baking dish into the refrigerator for 2 hours. Run a knife around the edges. Invert the quince paste onto a plate or sheet of parchment. Cut into small blocks and securely wrap in cellophane or parchment paper, and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Black cherry brandy-infused chocolate truffles
makes 30-40 truffles

1 lb semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate disks or chips (62% cacao or higher), or a block chopped into small pieces - I used Callebaut1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp brandy or liqueur of your choice (Gran Marnier, Luxardo, and Poire Williams are all good) - if you want to infuse, allow at least a month for the infusion to meld, up to 6 months
unsweetened cocoa, for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Place the chocolate disks or pieces into a mixing bowl. 

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, brandy (or other liqueur), and salt to a simmer, stirring and scraping down the sides occasionally. Pour mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Fold the cream and chocolate into each other, until uniform and silky. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until slightly firm, then, using a melon baller, scoop ganache into rough spheres. Refrigerate the lot, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, for 30 minutes-1 hour, then quickly roll them (so that they do not melt) between your palms to even their shapes. 

Place enough cocoa to easily coat the truffles in a small shallow bowl. Roll truffles around through the cocoa, then tap each lightly to free any excess. Refrigerate again, layers separated by parchment, in a sealed container until gift-giving time, and at that time, bring to room temperature.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwaanza. Give time to slow down, even if only a day or two, and enjoy your family and loved ones. By so many an account 2016 has been a rough one, but it doesn't make the precious nature of our time any different. See you in 2017! xxx


  1. Delicious looking and sounding home made treats. Love the font for the Kid Chef giveaway-- and the fact there is a give away.

  2. Thanks so much for your sweet comments!

  3. So colorful and beautiful, it is on my to-do list for this weekend since this is a great recipe to enjoy with my family, thanks for sharing!
    Prachi Gupta
    Best chocolate for valentine’s day

  4. Taste delicious. My kids will love this.