I am ordinarily immune to the pre-holiday rush everyone talks about. I am not in charge of cooking an elaborate Christmas meal (I contribute but don’t host), I don’t attend a trillion holiday functions, and we don’t go crazy with the presents in my family, so the lead-up to the holidays isn’t significantly busier than other times of the year.
For some reason though, the end of this year has felt particularly intense. Not with holiday-related stuff, but with various work projects I was striving to complete before taking a little time off to cuddle up at the foot of the Christmas tree and sip hot cocoa while humming Petit Papa Noël (you’re welcome).
Few people actually take the time to make their own spiced and roasted nuts, yet they are so much tastier homemade than store-bought.
Of course, when you’re a freelancer, having a lot of work is something to rejoice — not complain — about, but what it means is that I have had zero time to get my act together and prepare edible gifts as I aspire to.
Fortunately I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and just a couple of days ago I decided I was going to be giving little bags of the chipotle cumin roasted almonds I’ve been making for myself (and love love loving) lately.
They are a great example of something simple and easy that is still absolutely lovely to receive: few people actually take the time to make their own spiced and roasted nuts, yet they are so much tastier homemade than store-bought. They disappear in an instant when you offer them with a pre-dinner cocktail, and I also love to nibble on them in the afternoon, or chop them coarsely and add them to my lunch salads.
So if you’re sitting here wondering whether there’s still time to whip something up before the gift-giving commences, chances are there is: all you need is a handful of pantry ingredients and half an hour.
And if you want more edible gift ideas, here is a selection from the Chocolate & Zucchini archives:
- A pretty jar of Easy Candied Nuts, which you can then coat with chocolate as per this recipe,
- A batch of Christmas Sablés using your favorite cookie cutters,
- A nice bag of Homemade Granola or Savory Granola,
- A jar of Lightly Salted Crunchy Almond Butter.
– A batch of Almond and Orange Blossom Croquants,
– A box of Ginger and Almond Chocolate Clusters,
– Some Spiced Chocolate Peanut Butter using your very own mix of spices,
– The ever-delicious Yves Camdeborde’s Sablés (these are what I made and gave away last year).
Join the conversation!
Have your pre-holiday weeks been crazy or cozy? And are you on top of your game with edible presents this year? What’s your favorite last-minute food gift to make?
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- 500 grams (4 cups) whole unblanched almonds, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground chipotle, depending on how hot you want them (I buy it at L'Epicerie de Bruno; you can substitute smoked paprika, preferably hot, or any other mild, ground chili)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
- Place the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil (it helps the seasoning to adhere and the almonds to roast evenly), and add the salt, chipotle, and cumin. Stir until evenly coated; I find it's easiest to do this with your (clean) hands. Taste one almond and adjust the seasoning. Spread the almonds out in a single layer and insert the baking sheet into the oven.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them and stirring halfway through, until the almonds are nicely browned and fragrant.
- Let cool completely before serving or dividing among three gift bags. The almonds will keep for a few weeks in an airtight bag or container.
If there is cumin chipotle salt left at the bottom of the baking sheet, collect and keep it for seasoning avocados.