home made presents

Home-made (almost) Amaretto

I can't imagine anyone in the world not liking Amaretto ... and whilst it's not exactly the same as that gorgeous Disaronno - it IS super-easy to make a good home-made version.

It makes a great gift too - when I've given it as a present in the past, I've bought a couple of little pretty vintage glasses on eBay to go with it.

All you need is to make a simple sugar syrup by putting into a pan:

200g white sugar

100g demerara sugar

200ml (plus a splash) of water

Very slowly bring it the boil, stirring now and then to dissolve the sugar - when it's come to the boil and the sugar has dissolved, immediately remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Pour half a bottle (37.5 cl) decent vodka into a big jug and when cool add the sugar syrup and stir.

Then add:

4-5 teaspoons natural almond essence

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

Rachel Redlaw Amaretto
Rachel Redlaw Amaretto
Rachel Redlaw Amaretto

Stir, taste, adjust if necessary ... and that's it! 

Just pour into a bottle and it's ready to drink. 

This today happily made a full bottle plus a small glass for the 'chef' :) 


Home-made drinking chocolate

At this time of year you need a jar (or a bar) of drinking chocolate in the cupboard - so why not make your own? And t's such a great home-made gift idea too.

This recipe came from one of my sisters - she gave me a jar of her drinking chocolate and I (pretty much immediately) asked for the recipe.

And here it is - simple, delicious and not-too-sweet (which is why I love it, not having a sweet tooth).

125g good quality cocoa powder
175g good quality milk chocolate chopped
50g sugar
1tsp cinnamon (I don't like cinnamon but liked this drinking chocolate! But when I make some, I might try a little chilli powder instead)
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and mix until powdery.

Rachel Redlaw drinking chocolate
Rachel Redlaw drinking chocolate
Rachel Redlaw hot chocolate

Add a couple of teaspoons to your favourite milk and heat gently, whisking or stirring to make sure it's all smoothly mixed in. And be careful not to let it come to the boil, it needs to be hot but not boiling or the milk can easily burn.

There's something lovely + gentle + nostalgic + old-fashioned + comforting + just all round good about having a jar of your own home-made drinking chocolate to hand.

Make it; drink it; gift it. 

And be happy.