Your friends, but you also, will love these simple chocolates!
They are an ideal gift for dinner parties; wines and drinks are also fine but flowers are a pain for hosts, we think, as they force them to stop everything else and search for a vase…
As soon as the weather cools significantly, I prepare my first batch of rustic chocolates. We keep them in a jar and we eat one or two pieces after lunch, offer to friends who drop by, or give them as gifts. When the jar is almost empty, I make more, exactly as I do with my savory crunchy cookies that I keep in a similar jar.
I published the basic recipe for the chocolates in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, since my friend Vicki Snyder insists that every cookbook, no matter what its subject, should include a chocolate dessert. But I have the habit of changing and enriching my recipes even after I have published them, so here is my updated version of the very easy chocolates I make over and over again.
This time, as I knew I would have to prepare a few gift boxes, I doubled the recipe, melting 3 pounds of bitter-sweet chocolate, in two separate bowls, to make the melting process shorter. Costas and I spread the mixture in two pans and left them to solidify overnight. If we had cut them a bit earlier, say two hours after putting them in the pans, the pieces would be even and square; but this time a few pieces crumbled as we cut the hard mass of chocolate with a large bread knife.
I also add pistachios to my Chicken Liver Pâté which is flavored with thyme, orange and brandy. I am sure your friends will appreciate a jar of this homemade pâté, which is an ideal appetizer, so I suggest you double the recipe.
We also made quite a few jars of quince preserves which, of course, are much appreciated gifts, as are all kinds of homemade jams and marmalades.
Besides the quince preserves, and the chocolates, my traditional Christmas Melomakarona –the olive oil, orange and honey cookies— make wonderful edible gifts as they get better a few days after you bake and douse them in honey. This year instead of pressing them with a fork to create decorative lines, I shaped them inside the wooden molds I got many years ago from some Middle Eastern market.
If you have the time, and if, like me, you prefer salty to sweet treats, bake these Eastern Mediterranean savory breadsticks which are fragrant with spices and dotted with seeds and nuts.