For me, a festive hamper encapsulates Christmas spirit perfectly – festive food and treats, handmade gifts and a personal touch make a hamper ideal present for your family and friends this year. A homemade hamper is one of the most thoughtful, generous gifts you can give as you can tailor it to your friends tastes and dietary requirements, without it costing too much either!
So, when Ryvita got in touch to ask me to create a special festive hamper for a friend including their delicious Ryvita Thins, I couldn’t wait to get to get started, thinking of all the gorgeous festive treats to put together. Also, following on my on my quest to teach myself to cook this year, this was the perfect opportunity to cook my first ever chutney – something I’d never attempted before and quite honestly, could possibly have been quite a festive disaster! (See below for how I got on…..)
When putting together a hamper, my advice is to think of two things – firstly, luxury treats you wouldn’t eat every day and food that is ideal for sharing. You want the recipient to feel spoiled and surprised by the treats inside and be able to share the contents with family and friends over Christmas time too.
I started putting my hamper together by adding my Ryvita Thin’s – these are quite different from the classic ryvita we know and love, with five different flavours they are a fab party snack and the perfect ‘implement‘ for dipping in your homemade festive chutnies. I bought some for myself (well, I had to do a trial run of the chutney!) and they are SO moreish, once I had one I literally couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I’d watched a Christmas movie and managed to eat nearly a whole box, oops!
Other treats to include were things to share on Christmas Day – Luxury Juices, Spirits or Wine, Festive Hot Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Mix, Truffles and of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a traditional Christmas Pudding. I bought few of my treats from M&S this year – their products are just classic at Christmas time, they never dissapoint! I especially loved their Sparkling Peach and Proscecco Conserve! How amazing would that be as breakfast on Christmas Morning?
I also created some cute handmade crackers, these are packed with cute little surprises, jokes and of course a gold shimmery crown for Christmas Day too.
So, going back to my Chutney… Well, I’m so pleased to say my recipe and first attempts at cooking a chutney went really well! I decided to make a Caramelised Onion Chutney, inspired by the Caramelised Onion Ryvita Thin’s – having a dip of the same flavour was perfect and amplifies such a festive flavour.
SIMPLE CARAMELISED ONION RECIPE
Makes 4-6 jars
8 red onions
1 red chilli
2 bay leaves
25ml olive oil
150ml red wine vinegar
200g brown sugar
150ml balsamic vinegar
150ml red wine vinegar
- Cut your onions and chilli into thin slices and put them into a pan with the bay leaves and oil. Cook gently over a low heat for about 20 minutes.
- Once the onions are dark and sticky, add the sugar and the vinegars and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the chutney is thick and dark in colour.
- Pour the chutney into your glass jar, it’s best to sterilise your jar and pour in whilst the jar is still warm, to ensure your dip will be kept super fresh.
- The longer you leave the Chutney, the more the flavour will develop, so try and make it a little way before Christmas, although don’t worry if you are making a last minute gift, I think it tasted fab straight away!
So, when it comes to creating a Christmas Hamper, let your imagination run wild, spoil your friends and family this Christmas and give them a perfectly thoughtful homemade gift!
Post written in collaboration with Ryvita – All words, opinions and photographs are my own