Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gifts of Good Taste - Holiday Cordials & Vanilla Extract

This week's Holiday Food Festival theme is Gifts of Good Taste, which is hosted by Phoebe at Cents to Get Debt Free. I love this theme, as I strive to make edible gifts each year. I think it's so fun! I am famous for my homemade fudge in many varieties and peppermint bark. I've also experimented with making candied popcorn. Last year, we made Holiday Cordials, which are always a big hit. I've had the recipe for years - I copied it out of a friend's cookbook, but have no idea which one.

Please forgive the lack of pictures. My husband used the camera and changed the settings, so my pictures are not coming out clear. I can't figure out how to undo it, so the pictures will have to wait until later.

Ingredients (makes about 6 C)

  • 1 lb mixed dried fruit

  • 1 bottle (750 ml or 3.5 C) dry white wine

  • 1 C brandy

  • 2 C sugar


  1. Place fruit in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steal container. Stir in wine, brandy, and sugar until well blended. Cover tightly and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 week to allow flavors to develop. Stir occasionally for the first few days to dissolve sugar.

  2. To give, pack in small jars. On the gift tag, note that the liquor is for sipping; or the cordial is delicious poured over ice cream or pound cake. After about 6 weeks, the fruit should be removed or it may become too soft. The cordial alone keeps indefinitely.

This year, we will be gifting homemade vanilla extract. It's so easy and makes a great gift for the bakers in your life!


  • 5 vanilla beans (look for good quality beans online - you'll get a great price)

  • 1 750 ml bottle of vodka


  1. Split beans in half.

  2. Pour a small amount of the vodka out of the bottle.

  3. Fit all beans into the bottle.

  4. Shake every couple of weeks. In about 2 months, it's ready for prime time!

I will be pouring the extract into pretty, small bottles decorated with ribbon. I will put 1/2 bean in each bottle and add vodka to make sure each one is full. The tag will say that, as you use the extract, just add more vodka and it will regenerate! Cool, huh?

Happy Holidays!


  1. What great ideas. I think the vanilla would be a big hit. We tend to not buy ourselves edible luxeries so they make great gifts. I gave everyone sea salt last year. Hmmm, now to find some pretty bottles.

  2. Love the idea of these cordials! And, we're on the same wavelength on the vanilla extract. :-)

    I'm sympathetic on the camera issues, too. I've messed up the settings on one mode on my camera and can't figure them out either. :-(


  3. Cordial gifts are so, well cordial! Long ago, we made cranberry cordial, with fresh cranberries. Such a beautiful color and flavor. I'll have to find that recipe and make it again. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I love your peppermint barks like anything.Doesn't matters for the pictures just the recipe makes me feel hungry and my mouth is watering, i tried making it last weekend and liked it so much, it was yummy.

    cartucho r4i