HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Homemade gifts for sweets haters?

  • 53
  • Share

I've been wondering what you guys are making for people who don't like sweets. I have all kinds of cookies and cakes lined up to be baked and then realized I had a bunch of friends who don't even like that stuff. Also, I am poor so I can't get them what they really want (expensive booze)

Help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. wow - if you're nice enough to spend your time and energy to lovingly make treats for your friends for the holidays, I say you should make the same thing for everyone! It's the thought that counts and they should be lucky to receive a handmade gift from you.

    - jumping off my soap box now... :)

    8 Replies
    1. re: bostonfoodie111

      oh they very nice and would appreciate anything but i realized i had so many sweet hater friends that if i'm going to make something, might as well be something they would actually eat. lol

      1. re: choctastic

        there are some good flavored vodka and recipes for liquers which can be relatively inexpensive. I saw a recipe for Amaretto and Peppermint Schapps? Or how about a nice and cheap bottle of wine and some homemade cheese straws? Easy and yummy. There are a lot of nice wines under $10/bottle. :)

      2. re: bostonfoodie111

        Then again--there are those of us who aren't sweet-haters--on the contrary, we LOVE sweet stuff--but being diabetic means we can't indulge freely. I am infinitely grateful for the friends who remember this and don't just leave me out of the holiday goodie-giving--or load me down with stuff I can't enjoy!

        1. re: MsMaryMc

          Of course. But she did not say DIABETIC friends. She specifically said SWEET HATERS. That's not exactly the same. I think it's great to have choices, etc. but I also believe we need to remember and appreciate the gesture of what the gift is.

          1. re: bostonfoodie111

            yeah i have diabetic friends who love sweets so i make sweet stuff with splenda.

        2. re: bostonfoodie111

          It is the thought that counts, but some of us get so overloaded with sweets during this time of year (or are trying not to gain weight, or whatever) that the reality is that many sweet gifts go straight into the garbage (or, they linger at work where no one eats them because they are all sick of cookies, too, then they go into the garbage). It's just like getting a bad pair of earrings...it's nice that the giver thought of you but egad, you wouldn't ever wear them.

          1. re: christy319

            Let's face it - the holidays is gluttony for sweet and savory! ot only do a lot of sweets get tossed but other foods as well. It's sadly wasteful but tis the season I suppose.

          2. re: bostonfoodie111

            Of course, people should appreciate the effort that goes into a homemade gift or the time and money spent on a store bought one and it's possible to choose something with the best of intentions and still get it wrong, but actually giving someone something you know for sure they won't like? Seems to me that the thought there pretty much amounts to "I don't care." So kudos to the OP for wanting to give people gifts that demonstrate that their tastes and interests have been taken into account.

            In this situation, I've made flavored nuts (Frog Commissary Cookbook has some good recipes) and packed them up nicely. I've also done loaves of quick breads. Depending on just how sweet adverse they are, they might enjoy a pumpkin or zucchini or cranberry bread.

          3. breads - like a nice ciabatta or focaccia? savory scones?

            1 Reply
            1. re: marthadumptruck

              as a mostly sweet hater (i make exceptions for dark chocolate), marthadumptruck's suggestion sounds like things i would definitely devour! and the nut suggestions below sound like something that fits better w/ holiday themes.

            2. what goes well with booze? i dont drink so i have no idea bout these things

              1. What about a savory biscotti, perhaps with rosemary and pine nuts.

                1. I make herbed and/or spiced Nuts, mostly Pecans because that is what I like best. I package them in cello bags. They are easy to make and there are so many different recipes available.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: halimundy

                    Yes. fried almonds, the rosemary and chili spiced cashews from Barefoot Contessa are wonderful. Sweet and spicy buttered pecans etc. etc. there are lots of wonderful roasted or fried and spiced nut recipes out there.

                    I posted a recipe for deviled/potted country ham with bourbon about 1.5 weeks ago. I am planning on making up contianers of that as gifts this year along with my other nuts and cookies.

                    1. re: halimundy

                      1/3 c pine nuts (toasted-then chopped roughly)
                      2 c flour
                      1/2 c grated parmesan
                      1/4 c yellow cornmeal (I use polenta)
                      3 T grated pecorino romano
                      2 tsp fennel seeds
                      1 1/2 tsp salt
                      1 1/4 tsp baking powder
                      1 tsp sugar
                      1/2 tsp baking soda
                      3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
                      1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
                      1/2 c buttermilk
                      2 eggs-beaten

                      Combine flour through cayenne, stir in chopped pine nuts.
                      Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture.
                      Whisk together the buttermilk and the eggs and pour into the well. Stir with a fork until a crubly dough forms; knead until smooth but slightly sticky. Gather into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
                      Quarter the dough and roll each quarter into a 1 inch diameter log.
                      Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees (the tops may split-this is okay), allow to cool for 10 minutes and then cut each log into desired slices. Return the sliced biscotti to the baking sheets cut side up for 40 minutes, then turn over and bake for 40 minutes more.

                      This was from a December 1999 Food and Wine issue. I've been making it every year since then and is a great little snack to have on hand during the holidays. Enjoy.

                      1. re: rosielucchesini

                        Thanks, I will definitely try this.

                    2. As someone who doesn't like sweets as much as savory, I would say that I would really appreciate spiced nuts or homemade crackers (I say that because I vaguely remember someone a while back posting about making cheese crackers that sounded really good). Basically I would appreciate anything that went really well with wine (or drink).

                      1. What about some savory spiced nuts? You can use pecans, walnuts, almonds-or a combination thereof-coated with melted butter and honey and then tossed in a spice mixture and allowed to cook in a low oven to dry. I also like the idea of homemade crackers-I have an icebox cheddar cracker recipe if you are interested. In that same vein, I have also made a savory biscotti every holiday for the last 6 years or so: it calls for, among other things, cornmeal, pecorino romano, parmesan reggiano, fennel seeds and some red pepper. It is so tasty and just begs to be nibbled on while sipping a glass of wine.
                        Whatever you decide-I'm sure it will be fantastic.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rosielucchesini

                          I would love the recipe for savory biscotti. Would you share it?

                          1. re: halimundy

                            1/3 c pine nuts (toasted-then chopped roughly)
                            2 c flour
                            1/2 c grated parmesan
                            1/4 c yellow cornmeal (I use polenta)
                            3 T grated pecorino romano
                            2 tsp fennel seeds
                            1 1/2 tsp salt
                            1 1/4 tsp baking powder
                            1 tsp sugar
                            1/2 tsp baking soda
                            3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
                            1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
                            1/2 c buttermilk
                            2 eggs-beaten

                            Combine flour through cayenne, stir in chopped pine nuts.
                            Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture.
                            Whisk together the buttermilk and the eggs and pour into the well. Stir with a fork until a crubly dough forms; knead until smooth but slightly sticky. Gather into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
                            Quarter the dough and roll each quarter into a 1 inch diameter log.
                            Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees (the tops may split-this is okay), allow to cool for 10 minutes and then cut each log into desired slices. Return the sliced biscotti to the baking sheets cut side up for 40 minutes, then turn over and bake for 40 minutes more.

                            This was from a December 1999 Food and Wine issue. I've been making it every year since then and is a great little snack to have on hand during the holidays. Enjoy.

                        2. Here's an old thread with lots of good ideas: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          I hacve a recipe for Spicy Bourbon Nuts on that thread.

                          1. I also recommend going the savory route... I've made some spiced almonds w/ butter, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and cayenne that has been a big hit with everybody.

                            1. Problem solved for budget and your lush friends:

                              Make your own infused alcohol. Buy the super cheap Popov vodka (or even consider grain alcohol) and infuse with over ripe fruits or even peppers and aromatic veggies. Start them now so they have time to "age" before christmas.

                              Go to the office and sneak a few printed lables with your Signature namesake Vodka, go to the flea market for some antique glass bottles, little be-dazzle work with some ribbon and such...

                              YOu get the idea. I just might take my own advice.

                              1. interesting vinaigrettes or great caesar dressing are always appreciated when i do them.

                                1. go to your local bookstore or library and check out the cookbook section, because there are loads of books with well-done recipes on "Gifts from the Pantry" topics. These will often include photos of clever/unusual/inexpensive packaging treatments to give you ideas. You'll be amazed at the variety--you can tailor your gift to the personality.

                                  herb cooking sachets
                                  seasoned salts: lemon, smoked, etc
                                  salad dressings
                                  BBQ ssuce
                                  herbed nuts
                                  spiced olives
                                  tapanade
                                  compound butters
                                  pickled spiced pears
                                  pickled martini onions
                                  pickled mushrooms
                                  mint/cayenne jelly
                                  apple chutney
                                  goat cheese balls in OO
                                  cheddar cheese crackers or cheese straws
                                  potted salmon
                                  lemon curd
                                  marmalade
                                  various liqueurs
                                  herb (savory) muffins
                                  cheese spreads
                                  hot buttered rim mix

                                  have fun!

                                  1. I made a jar of pickled garlic for my boyfirend as part of his birthdya present. He wasn't massively impressed but I would have been.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: zelu koloria

                                      i made spicy dill pickles for a friend's birthday and she loved them.

                                      another idea would be to make little jars of flavored honey (thyme , rosemary) and give it with some cheese (goes great with a hard cheese like a pecorino or something). oh, wait- does honey and cheese count as sweets?

                                    2. I have a friend who makes a deluxe Chex Mix. It's great and I look forward to it every year. It had corn and rice Chex (none of the dud wheat Chex), Cheese crackers (no dud pretzels), Cashews, and is slightly spicy. She also has a couple of other "good" mixers in there I can't remember off the top of my head.

                                      I look forward to is every year.

                                      1. thanks so much for all the interesting suggestions. I never thought of the spiced up nuts route but that seems pretty popular. interesting crackers sound good too.

                                        thanks!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          My favorite spiced nuts recipe (curried almonds) is in that thread linked above. It's a huge hit -- even people who like sweets enjoy the change of pace -- and it's insanely simple. Plus nuts are easy to pack in a pretty tin or jar and they keep fairly well.

                                        2. They are time-consuming, but for the past 20 years, this Gringa has made tamales as gifts. I give them to all the neighbors, people in carpools, relatives, and we eat them ourselves on Christas morning and beyond. NOthing says "love" like homemade tamales!!!! They freeze wonderfully. I have Mexicans begging for my tamales! My niece from Australia said she came back to the States last Chrismas just for my tamales!

                                          1. I was going to add to the spiced nuts crowd...I bring them every year to Thanksgiving and they are all gone by the time I leave. My recipe is from the Boston Globe and the sweetener is maple syrup, not terribly sweet but easy! I've made curry nut mix too but find people love the basic one!
                                            Another suggestion is homemade sauce? I made a huge pot of sauce...meatballs,sausages etc. and painted clementine crates with spray paint. Added dishtowels, wooden spoon, pasta and jar of sauce and homemade biscotti.
                                            P.S. a friend makes mango chutney every year which I LOVE!!!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: 4chowpups

                                              I love the spiced nuts idea! Woudl you be willing to direct me to or post the Boston Globe recipe? I did a seach for it and found a recipe but it used honey, not maple syrup so it must be different.

                                              1. re: rln

                                                Here you go, this is from the Boston Globe magazine, a long while back. I use whatever combo of nuts suits me on the day, I buy my nuts at Trader Joes and love to add macadamia nuts or pistachios.

                                                Spicy Nut Mix

                                                1 c. pecans
                                                1 c. almonds
                                                1 c. walnuts
                                                1/2 c. hazelnuts
                                                1 tlb. corn oil
                                                1/4 maple syrup
                                                2 tlb. sugar
                                                1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (I usually add more)
                                                1/2 tsp. salt

                                                350 oven
                                                toast nuts on baking sheet for 10 min.

                                                In saucepan large enough to hold nuts, combine oil, syrup,and sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves, turn heat up slightly and when mixture begins to boil add nuts, red pepper and salt. Coat nuts thoroughly. Return nuts to baking sheet and toast 5-7 minutes or until they dry out. Remove from oven and stir every 5 min. or so so they don't stick to pan.

                                                1. re: 4chowpups

                                                  Thank you! This looks very do-able. I can't wait to try it.

                                            2. well, the spiced nut idea seems pretty popular, however, not really my thing, i was thinking herbed oils, just get a pretty bottle and fill with olive oil, add some chillies or herbs and let that sit for a while to infuse, then pack in a basket with some good breads, and voila.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: RiJaAr

                                                You can give people botulism with oils infused with fresh ingredients like fresh herbs and garlic. They need to be kept refigerated and used within 2 weeks or so -- making them sort of impractical gifts as well.

                                              2. Another option along the line of seasoned salts is spice blends such as Chinese Five Spice, Herbes de Provence, and Quatre Epices. Not only are they easy to do, but will appeal to those who must watch their sodium intake (such as folks with high blood pressure); put them up in pretty little bottles or jars, add a homemade label, tie with festive ribbon and there you are! Oh, and include a few recipes making use of the specific spice blend.

                                                Creative, inexpensive, and from the heart. Who wouldn't appreciate such a gift??!?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Xanthippe

                                                  Yeah, that's a great idea! Along with it being a great resource, this book has some fantastic ideas for spice mixes and such: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/book... Jerk seasoning would be another option!

                                                2. Oooh, jerk seasoning is a *terrific* idea! Thanks

                                                  1. The other thread I linked above also mentioned people who made infused vinegars. I like that idea as well.

                                                    1. I'm planning on making homemade mustard. It's incredibly easy and gets much more praise than jams or jellies.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                        What kind of mustard are you making?

                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                          As in a specific style? Nothing specific really. I use a mix of brown and yellow mustard seeds and a bit of mustard powder for kick. I like using a sherry vinegar instead of a cider vinegar or wine. It works out quite well! If you've never made it before, I've based my recipe on Caprial & John's recipe below. I use a blender instead of a food processor. You still get plenty of texture but the blender breaks up the mustard seeds more. You can mix and match ingredients, it's pretty forgiving!

                                                          Homemade Mustard

                                                          1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
                                                          3 tablespoons dry mustard
                                                          1 cup water
                                                          3/4 cup herb vinegar
                                                          1 tablespoon honey
                                                          2 teaspoons salt
                                                          2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs such as basil, tarragon and thyme

                                                          To prepare the mustard, place the seeds, dry mustard and water in a bowl and let stand 2 hours. Stir every 10-15 minutes. When the mustard seed are soft place in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running add the vinegar, honey, salt and herbs. Place in a lidded jar and allow to stand until it mellows to your taste. It will be very hot at first. Once the mustard is to your taste then place in the refrigerator to store. The mustard will keep several months.

                                                          1. re: HaagenDazs

                                                            Thanks for the recipe! My dad and I are both in love with mustards and I've been forbidden to buy anymore presents for my parents (by my husband) but I can still make them presents, right?!? ;-) I might have to try this for him!

                                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                                              Good plan! FYI: You have of course heard of beer mustard or white wine mustard. If you're up for experimenting, the beer or wine should replace the water when you soak the seeds.

                                                        2. re: HaagenDazs

                                                          speaking of mustard, another great baked gift item is soft pretzels.

                                                        3. I love the ideas of making things that will keep reasonably well, or freeze. We get SO overloaded with food during the holidays, that something like bread might not get eaten before it goes bad. But the nuts, pickles, compund butter, chutneys, tamales (that is the best food gift idea EVER!!), things that will stay good (or freeze) well after the holiday gorging is over-I bet these will be much appreciated.

                                                          1. Since you enjoy baking, why not bake the anti-sweet people a mushroom pie (or some other vegetable tart) instead of fruit pies?

                                                            1. christy:
                                                              I agree with you statement about food overloading...by the time xmas is here I feel i should take a post -holiday fast or something i'm so gorged out on fatty foods...

                                                              I'm a fan of the salad dressing and spiced nuts, but i think i'll try the biscotti this year...

                                                              1. What about flavored popcorn? Cheap, flavorful, often pretty. You could make a few different kinds and give people an assortment. Or you could use flavored popcorn to bulk up a gift of spiced nuts (nuts get expensive).

                                                                1. I was thinking about a spice rub as well. One year I did a taco seasoning.

                                                                  This year, I was thinking about something along the lines of a pepper jelly. I saw a recipe that had red peppers and jalapenos, so it was festive-looking as well.

                                                                  I did felafel-spiced pecans last year. I loved them, although others might have found them a bit too funky.

                                                                  Here's my go-to spiced nuts recipe, courtesy of Nigella:

                                                                  500g assorted unsalted nuts, including: peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds

                                                                  2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary (from 2 sprigs)
                                                                  1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
                                                                  2 tsp dark muscavado sugar
                                                                  2 tsp Malden sea salt
                                                                  1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

                                                                  Instructions:

                                                                  Preheat the oven to 350.

                                                                  Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven till they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

                                                                  In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, muscavado sugar, salt and melted butter.

                                                                  Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts with the spiced butter and serve warm. And once you eat these, you will never want to stop.