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From the Creature Comforts Test Kitchen + Free Holiday Labels

Hehe! I'm giggling after typing the title to this post (as if I have the chefly [that's a word right] prowess to actually have a test kitchen).

Anyhooo... one of my favorite things about the holidays is all the many treats and goodies that said holidays give you excuse to make/eat. Back a few months ago (while in the midst of Gifted Magazine-making-mayhem) my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (individuals with Celiac can not eat any gluten in their diet). It was a tough blow for both of us, but my little brother also has the disease so at least it was not a foreign diagnosis to us.

So with the holidays now upon us (and me still trying to figure out what to cook other than pan after pan of rice), I figured that my days of tasty food excursions would be over. But not so! I have discovered that there are actually quite a few regular recipes (not specifically designed for those with Celiac) that we can still make. Yay! So the other night we decided to try two of them out, and here is my breakdown on these holiday treats:

Hazelnut-Orange Rochers

These cookies looked delectable on the pages of Martha Stewart's special holiday cookies magazine (but honestly, what doesn't in her magazines). We gathered up the ingredients and launched into step one: Blanching the hazelnuts. The magazine's simple one line directive goes something like this: "Lightly toast hazelnuts in the oven for about 12 minutes until their skins crack, remove from oven, and vigorously rub nuts inside dish towel to remove skins." Taa-daa! This tiny sentence completely belies the now apparent fact that hazelnuts really really like their skins and are none to thrilled to be rubbed and probed out of them. For hours I toasted, briskly rubbed, throttled, cajoled, and finally pleaded with the nuts to release their darn coats - eventually resigning myself to scraping the skin from each individual nut off with my fingernails. Fun stuff, right?! Next came the chopping and the mixing which was simple-as-can-be compared to the hours long battle I'd just been through. Finally the prepared dough had to rest in the refrigerator overnight before baking the following day.

So the verdict: The cookies are tasty...I'm not gonna lie. But finger crunching, nail chipping, 2-day waiting period good - maybe not so much. These will be a one-of in my house; so darn it I'm going to enjoy them. Heaven knows I earned it!

And now we move on to the really gooey, I mean good stuff...

Fleur de Sel Caramels

My friend's husband loves sweet/salty food pairings so I decided that I wanted to make him a box full of salted caramels for Christmas. I've made caramel candy one time previously (about 8 years ago), and a few jars of yummy caramel sauce this past summer, but even so I was feeling pretty nervous about my ability (caramels can be tricky - or so I believed). I purchased a copy of Food Network Magazine because of the Fleur De Sel Caramels recipe by Ina Garten found inside (I didn't know it was available online at that point).

It turns out that hunting down the actual Fleur de Sel was the trickiest part of the whole project. Once found (this is the brand I bought and it's super yummy) I gathered up my ingredients/supplies and set to work. I followed the directions carefully (the magazine article and online story has a lot of helpful photos) - though I didn't let my sugar brown quite as much as in the photo shows (it was starting to smell as though it could be on the verge of burning). The project went surprisingly fast and smoothly (my daughter even helped me with the parts that didn't involve boiling sugar). Once cooled I am happy to report that the finished morsels got four very hearty (albeit sticky) thumbs up. This recipe is definitely going into my holiday cooking binder. Yummers!

As I said above, this project was initially intended for my friend's husband, but I came to realize that these would also make great teacher gifts (or even secret Santa treats). Of course a holiday gift wouldn't be complete without the gift packaging, so I created some tags to go with my presents. I purchased the candy boxes from our local Michael's craft store, lined them with colored tissue paper, filled them with parchment paper-wrapped caramels (parchment paper can be found in the baking isle of grocery stores), attached a bright red ribbon around each one, and then glued on my labels.

I created several PDF files of my labels if you'd like to make your own parcels of these sweets for lucky friends/family this holiday. There is even one sheet of printable labels that are completely blank. Just hand-write in your own text for whatever tasty gifts you decide to use them on. Enjoy!

All images by me (Ez Pudewa).

Reader Comments (23)

My mouth is watering. I've been dying to make the fleur de sel caramels, and I might just have to add it to my to-do list this week!

Oh, and you're styling is incredible!

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Thanks so much Jessie! You just made my day!
I hope you will give the caramels a try and let me know how they turn out. I'm rather addicted to making these now. I'll be mixing up a third batch this weekend! xo Ez

December 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterEz

So happy that you have found something everyone can enjoy! I know it must be so hard to make that huge life adjustment. Wishing you and your sweetie the best as you discover new recipes! PS Everything you make would be worthy of a Martha Stewart magazine- easy!

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTraveling Mama

Thanks for sharing this info packed post just when I needed it....Years ago I came across the hint about the hazelnuts (not from Martha) and those instructions were to leave them in the towel for several minutes, not to get cool, but, I do believe, to steam a bit. I would put them in the towel and pull all the corners up so you have kind of a ball and twist the top and leave them in their warm happy heap for maybe five minutes(?).

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSherri B.

Those caramels look yummy. You should try Stephanie O'Dea's cookbook:
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking. Her family doesn't eat gluten and its a great cookbook. Easy, simple and tasty.

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Love the labels and love fleur de sel caramels - cute, cute!

Oh, thank you for this post, and especially for the free labels! I was just pondering what to make for holiday baked gifts, and this is perfect!

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Can I come over next time you're making treats like these? :) Such lovely, mouth-watering photos, and thanks for the downloads!

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTrude

you kill me (again). Your friend's husband sure is a lucky guy... hee hee.

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarichelle

First, sorry to hear that your daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. I've been hearing more and more friends coming down with this but I have been seeing more and more gluten free products in local grocery stores as a result as well. Poor kiddo!
Your description of roasting hazelnuts had me in stitches! However, judging by your beautiful photos.. it was well worth the effort. Wowsa. And don't even get me started on those gorgeous boxes of fleur de sel caramels! That brand of Fleur de sel is very common here in Montreal where you can get them just about at any of your local deli or specialty grocery store. : )

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChantalep

I'm sorry your daughter has been diagnosed with coeliac disease. I can very well imagine how it feels for her, and for you to adjust to the new diet since I've been diagnosed with gluten (medical not just because) intolerance 18 months ago. I live in France, land of artisan bread and it was hard to quit on good bread ! Now we have to adjust to another diagnosis : my daughter & type 1 diabetes.
I live in Brittany, right in the area where the French salty caramel(s) was born, we even have a delicious salty caramel spread called salidou... my pleasure to spoil your daughter if you like... let me know...

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

ps : and I could enclose some fleur de sel , very popular & easy to find here ;) thank you for all the links & pretty labels x

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

Beautiful labels! I might just have to take advantage.


December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

beautiful labels and OH the food looks scrumptious.

Some very dear friends of mine have celiac disease--the whole family, actually, but they have found so many recipes and sources for good recipes. If you do a bit of searching (I can't remember the site), you can find a few forums full of discussion of what's good and what's not in terms of recipes. Good luck with the adjustment--it's hard, but your daughter will probably notice a big difference right away in how she feels all the time. I know my friends felt so much healthier and more energetic once they started eating gluten-free.

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Bee

You probably already know, Cannelle et Vanille has many wonderful gluten free recipes.

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDia

I have been gluten free for almost five years now and I completely understand the transition to eating differently. One of my favorite pastimes is making Christmas cookies with my mom, but that is harder to do without "normal" flour. So this year, I decided that wasn't going to stop me! I found a recipe for spritz cookies here: that are SO good! My husband, who isn't gluten-intolerant, even said these are the best cookies I've ever made! Just wanted to pass on a delicious recipe that might be fun to make with your daughter!

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

It seems that there is silver lining everywhere. As difficult as a change in diet like that can be, it seems that it will lead you to new discoveries of deliciousness like this!

Also, I have been making homemade treat baskets as gifts this year and have been trying to decide what caramel recipe to use. Right before making them I popped online to read some blogs and take my mind off the seemingly impossible recipes I've found and then, this! Thank you so much for sharing, I've found my caramels!

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterisabel

I love salted carmels and salted chocolate! I will have to try to make these

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCassi

oohh...the salted caramel looks extra yummy, might have to try that one.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Love this post - the candy looks amazing and the packaging you made is so sweet too!

December 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

This is so great! Thanks for posting it.

Quick question- do you mind telling me the name of the font you used on the labels? I've been trying to figure it out forever. Thanks!

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

Thanks Summer. The font is called Le bain au milieu and is available for free from Dafont. You can find it here:

June 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterEz

I laughed when I read about your hazelnut experience, because it was mine, too! Thiis year for Thanksgiving we toasted hazelnuts for our green beans. My husband and I were peeling and rubbing them forever! I think we would have done better with a small grater or something. Or maybe sand paper!

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber @ Don't Sew Angry

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