Although Mishloach Manot gifts for Purim have become an insane candy exchange for kids, we still like to come up with some creative and delicious ideas for homemade gifts that are easy to make and special enough to give out.

We pair the fudge with some liquor or wine or milk for kids, the crunchy caramel popcorn with hot chocolate or wine, and the lemon garlic olives are great with crunchy fresh French bread or crackers and a bottle of wine. Make a few gifts and see how they stand apart. 

Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn

3 quarts freshly popped popcorn

1 cup cashews (or other nut of choice), unsalted and roasted

1 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts

1 cup whole almonds or pecans

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup margarine

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 120 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the popped corn and nuts in the pan, mixing well. Place in the heating oven while preparing the glaze.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, orange zest and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Boil for four minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and baking soda.

Gradually pour the glaze over the popped corn mixture, stirring to coat well.

Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about an hour. Remove from the oven. Using a metal spatula, free the popcorn from the bottom of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan.
Break into clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Super Easy Dairy Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge
Makes 8 dozen pieces

350 grams bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 cups toasted and chopped walnut, pecan, macadamia, or other nuts (optional)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

20 large marshmallows

4 cups sugar

2 (150 gram) cans evaporated milk

Combine the chocolate pieces, nuts (if using), butter, and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Place the marshmallows, sugar, and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat and immediately pour the marshmallow mixture into the chocolate mixture; beat constantly until creamy. Quickly pour into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least an hour before cutting into pieces. Serve at room temperature.

Lemon Garlic Olives

400 grams good quality green olives
 (preferably cracked)

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice


4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

¼ teaspoon coriander

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1 lemon, cut in ½ inch chunks

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large bowl, mix olives with oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cilantro, mint, lemon and crushed red pepper (if using).

Stir well to combine. Cover olives with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours or up to one month. Bring the olives to room temperature before serving.

See www.gourmetkoshercooking.com for more great homemade Mishloach Manot ideas.


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