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Edible Giving

A trio of New York chefs share their personal food-as-gift strategies.


Mini Chocolate Torta Caprese
From Lidia Bastianich of Felidia and Del Posto
“One year I gave these to everyone who came in over the holidays, starting a week before Christmas. Wrap the little flourless cakes in cellophane bags tied up with a gold bow, with the recipe attached. ”

Butter and flour for muffin pans
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour the pans. Beat the butter in a food mixer with 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time; beat well. Stir in chocolate and almond flour; combine well. Whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until very soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter into each pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before removing from pans. Makes 18 individual cakes.

Holiday Fruit Compote
From Tom Valenti of Ouest and West Branch
“I’m very much a creature of habit during the holidays—I’ve made this compote every year since 1989. It has the same vibe as holiday mincemeat but doesn’t whack you over the head the way mincemeat does.”

2 1/2 cups dry white wine
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
Pinch salt and black pepper
6 cups assorted dried fruits (cranberries, currants, prunes, or apricots); dice larger fruits
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes, tossed with the lemon juice

Pour wine, vinegar, corn syrup, orange juice, zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and salt into a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then taste. It should have some sweetness but be high in acid and spice. Add fruit and cook over low-to-medium heat for 40 minutes; stir to prevent scorching. Transfer to a cookie sheet and allow to cool. Place in a jar with a tight lid and chill. Because of the white wine and vinegar, this will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Makes 2 1/2 to 3 quarts.

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
From Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country
“A mason jar full of nuts and a pretty ceramic bowl is my favorite gift. If you bring these to a party, tell the host or hostess to hide them, or they will disappear.”

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.


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