Forget the boring fruit basket – there are fantastic, inventive, delightful gifts you can make from fruit that will thrill your recipients and yet are easy and fun to make.
This delicious and healthy treat is ideal for children – especially those who have a sweet tooth – and for healthy eaters and those whose diet and lifestyle are important to them. Fruit leather is high in antioxidants, fibre and valuable complex sugars that support the immune system.
- 500 grams blackberries (fresh or frozen)
- 500 grams cooking apples
- Juice of a large lemon
- 150 grams honey
- A little sunflower oil
Peel, core and dice the apples and toss them in the lemon juice with the blackberries before putting them in a pan, partially covered with a lid, and cooking them on a low heat for ten minutes before removing the lid and cooking for a further ten minutes. While they are cooking, preheat the oven to very low: preferably 60ºC or whatever is the lowest setting you can manage will work.
Allow the fruit to cool slightly before pressing it through a sieve to deliver around 700 grams of puree. Stir in the honey.
Line two baking sheets with oiled greaseproof paper or tinfoil and divide the fruit puree between them, spreading it flat with a spatula, and bake overnight until the leather is dry and peels easily away from the tray. Lay fresh greaseproof paper over the top of each leather and roll up each layer, before wrapping it in clingfilm and storing it in an airtight container in a cool place.
To prepare as a gift for an adult, unroll the leather and cut into small diamonds, topping each one with a glacé fruit, before displaying in a pretty cardboard box or tin.
For children, unroll the leather and cut into long thin strips, rolling each one up to make a fat pinwheel and standing on end in a bright plastic box.
Fruit leather keeps for four months and can be frozen for up to a year.
These sophisticated treats are ideal for a gourmet friend.
- 75 grams butter
- 75 grams demerera sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoon double cream
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 75 grams flaked almonds
- 75 grams candied fruit, finely sliced
- 50 grams chopped nuts
- 50 grams cranberries or blueberries or sour cherries
- 150 grams top quality (at least 70% cocoa) chocolate
Preheat the oven to 160°C or mark 3. Line three baking sheets with greaseproof paper or baking parchment. In a large pan, melt together the butter, sugar, honey and cream and allow to bubble gently for two minutes.
Stir in the ground and flaked almonds, chopped nuts, candied fruit and berries. Stir everything together gently but thoroughly until it is thoroughly blended. Lightly oil a dessert spoon and drop spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheets, spacing them well apart as the mixture spreads. You get around half a dozen on each tray.
Bake for 12 minutes until golden and then slide the parchment/paper from the tray and cool the Florentines so that they become solid and crisp.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and either dip the biscuits in it, or spread it on one side of the biscuits and leave to set.
Arrange the biscuits in a basket, chocolate side up, in nests of bright tissue paper and store in a cool, dry place until you present the gift.
Fruit Beauty Gift
This is a perfect gift for a mum or grandmother who has little time to spend on herself, or even a dad or granddad who’s into personal grooming, and is easy for anybody, even the most cash-strapped student to give, because the primary value of the gift is not the ingredients but the time and care that goes into making this present so special.
Offer a loved one a fruit-based beauty session, with a face mask and a pedicure. Set up the bathroom to be a salon-style shrine to pampering, with a fruit-scented candle, fresh clean towels and make sure it’s warm!
Begin with a face mask that works, for both men and women, to smooth the skin and make it look more taut and toned.
Peach Perfect Mask
- 1 ripe peach, peeled and quartered
- 1 egg white
Blend the two ingredients together until completely smooth. Spread over a cleansed face with a small soft brush, avoiding the eye and mouth area. Relax for 30 minutes – this is a good time to offer the pedicure!
Warming Soothing Foot Scrub
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 100 ml almond or olive oil
- Zest and juice from a large orange
- Half a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger
Blend the sugar and oil together with a spatula, and then stir in the orange juice and zest and ginger. Fill a large tub with warm water and put the recipients feet in it. Lift out one foot at a time onto a towel on your lap and massage the scrub gently into the foot, taking special care around the heels and over any rough skin. Then return the foot to the tub and massage the scrub into the other foot, before gently rinsing the feet and then turning the towel over to dry the feet with great care.
Rinse away the face mask, using fresh warm water and cotton pads to sweep away the fruit residue. From head to foot, your recipient will feel soft and smooth and very pampered!