EX­OTIC TREATS

Jenny Gar­ing re­sponds to read­ers’ kitchen queries. This week: Christ­mas presents to eat and drink.

The Press - Zest - - Eat -

2 sheets of con­fec­tion­ers’ rice pa­per 85g plain flour 30g Dutch co­coa 11⁄ tea­spoons cin­na­mon

4 1⁄ tea­spoon each of ground nut­meg,

4 ground co­rian­der and freshly ground white pep­per 150g dried figs, finely chopped 100g glace orange peel, finely chopped 225g blanched al­monds, roasted 75g pis­ta­chios, roasted 100g roasted, peeled hazel­nuts 150g caster sugar 150g honey 100g dark choco­late, finely chopped ic­ing sugar or co­coa to dec­o­rate Pre­heat the oven to 170C. Oil a 19cm x 19cm slice tray and line it with the rice pa­per. Sift 60g of flour, the co­coa and spices into a bowl. Add the fruit and nuts and toss to coat them in the flour mix.

Com­bine the sugar, honey and 1 ta­ble­spoon of hot wa­ter in a saucepan and stir over low heat un­til the sugar has dis­solved. Add the choco­late and stir un­til smooth.

Pour this over the flour mix­ture and stir un­til com­bined. The mix­ture should be very stiff.

Spoon it into the pre­pared tray and, us­ing damp hands, press it out un­til level. Sift the re­main­ing flour over the top and bake in the oven for 30-35 min­utes.

Leave it in the tray for 10 min­utes be­fore turn­ing out onto a wire rack to cool. Wrap in foil for three days be­fore eat­ing. Sift ic­ing sugar or co­coa on top and wrap in pretty twine to make a present.

This is not the Viet­namese rice pa­per you use to make spring rolls, but a spe­cial sweet pa­per used in bak­ing. You can buy it from spe­cialty shops.

For quaf­fa­ble presents, try mak­ing one of the fol­low­ing, but re­mem­ber the cola de mono needs to be re­frig­er­ated. The oth­ers can be stored in the pantry.

You could also try in­fus­ing a bot­tle of vodka with in­ter­est­ing herbs or spices, such as kaf­fir lime leaves, fresh chillies, green car­damom pods or cof­fee beans. Th­ese need about a week to in­fuse.

VIN D’ORANGE

Makes 1.3 litres (2-3 bot­tles) Prepa­ra­tion: 5 min­utes Cook­ing: 5 min­utes This is a won­der­ful sum­mer aper­i­tif from Provence and it’s easy to make. 2 x 750ml bot­tles dry white wine 1⁄ cup sugar

2 160ml brandy 2 whole cloves 2 or­anges Put all the in­gre­di­ents ex­cept the or­anges in a saucepan and bring to a gen­tle sim­mer, stir­ring un­til the sugar has dis­solved, then re­move from the heat.

Re­move the zest from the or­anges in a con­tin­u­ous spi­ral us­ing a veg­etable peeler and cut off any white pith with a par­ing knife. Di­vide the zest be­tween 2 pretty bot­tles. Fill the bot­tles with the orange wine and cool, un­capped, for 1 hour.

Cap the bot­tles then chill for at least 4 hours. Or even bet­ter, leave it for a week for the orange zest to in­fuse. Serve cold, over ice, topped with soda or, even bet­ter, bub­bly.

COLA DE MONO

Makes 16 drinks or 2-3 bot­tles Prepa­ra­tion: 5 min­utes, plus cool­ing Cook­ing: 10 min­utes This Chilean drink trans­lates as ‘‘tail of the mon­key’’. At Christ­mas ev­ery fam­ily makes their own cola de mono, vary­ing the quan­ti­ties of tequila, cof­fee and spices to suit their taste. 6 cups milk 1 cup sugar 2 cin­na­mon sticks 1⁄ cup in­stant cof­fee pow­der

4 2 cups tequila 1 tea­spoon pure vanilla ex­tract Bring the milk, sugar and cin­na­mon sticks to a gen­tle boil. Dis­solve the cof­fee in the hot milk.

Let it cool in the fridge. When it is well chilled, add the tequila and vanilla. Pour into capped bot­tles and keep in the fridge. Serve cold. ................................................................... Send your ques­tions to jenny@ground.co.nz. Jenny Gar­ing: lin­guist, trav­eller, food-ob­sessed cre­ator of the Ground Gourmet Es­sen­tials range and the Ground Culi­nary Cen­tre.

Fes­tive cheers: From left, vin d’orange, kaf­fir-lime­leaf-in­fused vodka and cola de mono.

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