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Dec 5, 2007 09:50 AM

Gifts in a Jar

I'd like to make up some food gift jars to give as hostess gifts this holiday season, and I'm looking for suggestions. Specifically, I'm referring to assembling the contents of a recipe in a mason-type jar which would have a recipe or cooking instructions on an attached gift card. I'd like the contents to look pretty, and I need to be certain that the contents will cook up into something truly delicious when the instructions are followed. I've seen instructions for bean soup and various baked goods, but I'm eager to hear your ideas. Thanks!

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  1. Bean soups are great, especially if you can find multi-colored small pasta shapes to add as a layer.

    I've done hot cocoa mixes before (layering cocoa, sugar, powdered milk), tying a cinnamon stick or candy cane to the jar as a stirrer. Also, even though the mix is made with powdered milk, if you write the instructions to use milk instead of water when mixing you'll guarantee a rich and tasty hot cocoa. One year I even made homemade marshmallows, but I've seen nice ones at Trader Joe's that would be easier to wrap up.

    I'd also consider cookie recipes that just require adding eggs and butter and the "wet" ingredients. You can layer the flour, sugars, spices, mix-ins..

    Better Homes and Garden also had an article on homemade gifts. One idea was using small jars to make dip mixes. Each jar had a different dip combo and all you had to do was add one container of sour cream to the mix.

    1. Every year I buy a box of a dozen wide-mouth Mason jars and make *Brownies In A Jar* for friends, co-workers and, admittedly, some for my family. It is sooo easy to do and they look lovely when finished. It only takes a couple of hours to make a much-appreciated gift; an hour to fill the jars and an hour to decorate them. Organization is key here. I wash all the jars on the *pots and pans* cycle of the dishwasher so they're squeeky clean. I've also purchased a wide-mouth funnel, which speeds the filling process. I line up all the jars and add one element to each jar before moving on to the next. On waxed paper, I measure out the flour, baking powder and soda and then sift them together for each jar. I then fold up the waxed paper to make it easy for placement into the jar. Then comes a layer of the brown sugar, then white sugar, followed by walnuts, chocolate chips and vanilla chips. I buy a small package of various Christmas fabrics and cut out a circle with pinking shears, placing the fabric between the Mason jar lid and outer ring. I wrap either satin ribbon or raffia around the rim, to which I've tied baking instructions printed on paper glued to construction paper (also cut out with pinking shears). And they all say *Make for you with love from............* All the recipient has to do is add a couple of eggs and some vegetable oil to make yummy, moist brownies. This is so easy to do and they look great. You can also put all the filled jars back into the original box for easy transport and gift-giving from your car. But be careful. The box is VERY heavy.

      8 Replies
      1. re: pilotgirl210

        p.s. Not all recipes are created equal! There are some awful ones out there. I will print out my recipe at home tonight and post it tomorrow.

        1. re: pilotgirl210

          I couldn't agree more! I think this is a lovely idea, if done right. I once received a gift of one jar of chocolate chip cookie mix and one jar of tortilla soup mix. Either the baking soda was left out or something else happened, but the cookies did not rise at all and were inedible and the soup was quite bland.

          1. re: CindyJ

            My pleasure, with best wishes for a wonderful holiday season:


            Layer in a one-quart wide-mouthed Mason jar the following, in order, sifting together the first three ingredients before adding to jars:

            1 cup flour
            1 tsp baking soda
            1/2 tsp salt

            2/3 cup brown sugar
            2/3 cup white sugar
            1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
            1/2 cup vanilla chips
            1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
            1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

            Decorate jar and add this gift tag:


            Combine contents of jar with 3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 2/3 cup vegetable oil. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of brownies comes out clean. Prepared with love from our family to yours by ________.

            1. re: pilotgirl210

              I just wanted to double-check and make sure that the pan needs to be greased, but not floured?

              1. re: CindyJ

                The recipe only says *greased,* but I always grease the pan and then dust it with powdered cocoa. Flour shows up white on the dark brownies and isn't very appetizing, in my opinion. However, I think the recipe only says *greased* because they want to make the recipe simple for the gift recipient and a lot of non-cooks probably don't even have cocoa in their pantry. I've made them just using Crisco and they came out fine.

            2. re: CindyJ

              Hey, Cindy. Did you make these? How'd it go? Just curious.

              1. re: pilotgirl210

                Thanks for the recipe, pilotgirl. I'll be assembling them as holiday gifts for my women's group, and I'll be sure to make (at least) one to keep for myself. I'll let you know how they turn out.

          2. My kids make meals in jars as gifts--using the largest jar for bean soup, next size for corn bread, next for brownies/cookies, next for mexican coffee or hot chocolate or something hot. People have loved them and say they taste great. Truly delicious? Honestly, I can't imagine how good a soup can be w/ dried boullion and the other things inside. The ones I've had have been kind of mushy. Brownies, cornbread are fine. The hot drinks are usually made w/ dried milk. It's great for people who are busy and don't cook. You can get good size, reasonably prices jars at IKEA. I've used this site:


            1. How about a jar of homemade pasta sauce with a recipe and make a package of pasta? If a bigger budget, toss in a wedge of parm!

              1 Reply
              1. re: scuzzo

                Wouldn't that require a hot water bath canning process?

              2. I was planning on making homemade hot cocoa mix and a few homemade marshmallows to give my coworkers. Not exactly a recipe that will cook into something delicious, but I figure that it's not terribly time consuming and not too pricey.

                1 Reply
                1. re: HungryRubia

                  I think that's a GREAT idea. I was in Williams-Sonoma and saw their cocoa/marshmallow gift packages and they're so expensive. You can really get creative with homemade marshmallows, too.