Everywhere I look lately, there are gift guides with lots of suggestions for holiday hostess gifts. One of the best came from Heather John, who featured caviar powder! as a hostess gift on her über-stylish blog, thefoodinista.
My neighbor Lesley is the master of hostess gifts and must have a stash of them because every time she comes over she brings something. It’s usually small and always perfect, from a wooden salad set I use all the time to a box of sublime cookies we devoured in one night.
I love looking at all of the suggestions and have daydreamed about bringing that just-right hostess gift. But, alas I’m usually running out the door with a bottle of wine and maybe a tussie mussie (that’s right—a tussie mussie) from my garden.
This season, I’ve vowed to do it right. Lucky for me, Wes Martin, the brilliant author whose book, “There’s a Party in My Pantry” we’ve just published, has a recipe called Crunchy White Chocolate – Cherry Bonbons that are guaranteed to make a hostess smile. And the best thing about them: homemade. Yep. Finally, I have the perfect hostess gift. Even better: I’ll add a bottle of Schramsberg Crémant or Royal Tokaji Mád Cuvée.
Here’s the recipe from “There’s a Party in My Pantry.”
Crunchy White Chocolate – Cherry Bonbons
There’s nothing more stressful than a last minute dinner party invitation and not having anything on hand to bring the host. These super-simple, tasty candies are impressive, and, like those notorious potato chips, you can’t eat just one. They remind me of all the great goodies my mom used to make during the holidays, but these can be whipped up at any time of the year, for any occasion.
Note: It’s critical to use a high-quality white chocolate sold in bulk, not candy bars, as they have added ingredients to keep them soft. White chocolate can be temperamental, so do not overheat or overmix it or it can seize.
Makes about 18
12 ounces high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup cherry jam or jelly, at room temperature
1/2 cup crisped rice cereal
1/2 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped
Confectioner’s sugar, for rolling, optional
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Fill a saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a boil.
3. Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place on top of the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Immediately turn off the heat. Let stand without stirring for about 10 minutes.
4. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, and with a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate until smooth. If there are any small bits of whole chocolate, let stand a few minutes and stir gently until they dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
5. Stir the jam into the chocolate, followed by the cereal, cherries, and almonds and mix until evenly combined. Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop ping pong-size balls of the mixture and place them on the lined baking sheet.
6. When all of the balls are formed, use your hands to roll them until very smooth and round. If they are still soft and flatten too much, roll again to reshape them. Sometimes I form them into patties, chill them, and dip them in melted dark chocolate – delicious!
7. Let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature to firm up. Roll the balls in confectioner’s sugar, if desired and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.