Homemade Gourmet Purim Basket Ideas

You’ve contributed to the Purim shuttle of every tzedakah organization in town. You’ve sent out “in lieu of” cards to friends and in-laws. But there still remain those few individuals to whom you just want to give something more personal, not to mention the actual mitzvah of mishloach manos! You want to be creative – but not too creative, spend money – but not too much. Here are two ideas for unique, easy and elegant mishloach manos, one sweet and one savory.

Sweet Mishloach Manos

Please go to www.chefstools.com to see their Bella Couture cupcake wrappers. They are beautiful ways to decorate the (no longer lowly) cupcake. We’re putting our sweet meringue nuts inside this pink and brown version: http://www.cheftools.com/Bella-Cupcake-Couture-Cupcake-Wrappers-Pink-Hannah-12-Pack/productinfo/08-0672/
Bella Cupcake Couture
We putting them atop a brown and pink striped box from nashvillewraps  : find them in our SHOP
filled with mini nutella swirl pound cakes. A ribbon is attached to the box. Tie some pink and brown stick candy to the ribbon and voila.

Sweet Meringue Nuts

4 cups toasted pecans
2 cups toasted almonds
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place margarine on a rimmed baking sheet and put in oven to melt. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar. Gently stir the nuts into the beaten egg white mixture. Evenly spread the nut mixture on the baking sheet with the melted margarine. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 to make sure that the margarine is evenly distributed – until all margarine has been absorbed and the meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. Keeps for 1 week in an airtight container.

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake (Pareve or Dairy)

Adapted from original recipe by Lauren Chattman author of Cake Keeper Cakes

I use the pareve chocolate spread instead of Nutella to make this pareve. Either way it is delicious.

1 ½ cups flour,
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted margarine, or butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 13-ounce jar of Nutella or 13 ounces of Pareve Chocolate spread (the pareve spread may need to be softened in the microwave to spread like nutella does. Heat in 20 second intervals, until spreadable but not cooked)

Preheat the oven to 325. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or 6 2 x4 inch mini loaf pans with non-stick spray. In a glass measuring cup lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 ½ cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a mixer beat the margarine with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread one –third of the batter in the pan, then spread half of the Nutella or chocolate cream on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Chocolate cream or Nutella. Top with remaining batter. Lightly swirl the chocolate cream into the batter with a knife. Do not over mix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour. (Smaller cakes will require about 40 minutes). Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Savory Mishloach Manos

Use any easy and inexpensive basket. Fill it with natural looking raffia or tissue. Add long bread sticks or purchased gourmet crackers. Make any combination of these items to impress and delight your friends.
Infused Olive oils: Rosemary, Basil, or Lemon http://www.surlatable.com/product/id/124872.do?mr:trackingCode=4B62AEDC-D781-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA#

Marinated Olives

Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Italian Wine, Chianti, or Other fruity wine

To purchase the bottles go to www.surlatable.com
Set of 4 are $24.95

Or for beautiful smaller bottles with a pour spout, go to www.hubert.com

Rosemary-Infused Olive Oil

1/2 cup olive oil
3 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 5 inches long)

In small saucepan, combine oil & rosemary. Cook over low heat until a thermometer reaches 180 F, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temp. Transfer the sprigs to a bottle, then add the oil. Seal and refrigerate up to 1 month

Basil Oil

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil

Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds.
Drain. Rinse under cold water. Pat basil dry with paper towels. Transfer to blender. Add oil; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)

Lemon and Bay Leaf Infused Olive Oil

1 large fresh lemon
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh bay leaf
¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns

Wash the lemon thoroughly and dry well. Pour the olive oil into a small heavy saucepan. Using a zester and working directly over the pan, remove the zest from the lemon, letting it fall into the oil. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until a candy thermometer reaches 200 degrees. Cook at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the oil mixture to clean sterilized bottles. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

Citrus-Marinated Olives

1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
1 1/2 cups cracked brine-cured green olives
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients in large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.
Shake bag to blend ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning bag occasionally. Transfer olives and some marinade to bowl. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before serving. Serve at room temperature or warm.

Olive Tapenade
Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse,
3/4 pound pitted Kalamata olives
3 to 4 ounces capers, drained and rinsed
2 anchovy fillets, drained, rinsed and patted dry (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cognac or brandy
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well, then allow to process until mixture is coarsely pureed. Taste for seasoning, then serve as a dip alongside crusty bread, grilled vegetables or chicken, or tossed with cooked pasta and fresh herbs.

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