Foodie Christmas Gift
I have decided to make edible Xmas gifts this year and am wondering if anyone has any unique suggestions other than the usual fruit mince pies, booze-soaked dried fruit, Xmas shortbread etc.
Also creative packaging and wrapping ideas please.
Some hits from the past that I've given that brought smiles and compliments and profuse thank-you's....
Cookies... And my all time favorite cookie cook book is this one: http://tinyurl.com/4k5v67 Beware! there is a new version out with a white cover that does NOT have all of the original recipes. This link is to a facsimile release of the original cookie book. One of the best recieved Christmas cookies I've ever made from it is on page 49, "Marzipan Cookies." I went all out one year and made them look like real fruit. Somewhere else in the recipe book there is a recipe for making "paint" for cookies, and I used it to make detailed bananas and pears and apples, oranges, a few bunches of grapes, peaches with a blush on them. Gave a fairly large arrangement of them to about five people, and they were admired and eaten by all but my mother, who sealed hers in a bowl with plastic wrap and set them in her china cabinet. I think they took about nine years to turn to dust. I love this cookie book with lots of great photos. The biscotti recipe is delicious. On the other hand, I've never had a bad cookie from any of the recipes. But some are "gorgeouser" than others, so for Christmas I narrow the field based on looks alone.
I also made a variety of home made candies one Christmas, including truffles, chocolate covered cherries (you have to make well ahead so the center has time to liquify), choclate turtles, bark, but my favorite of favorites was the milk chocolate dipped dill weed potato chips. They were sooooooooooooo good not one of them made it to a gift box!
If you like baking, one very ambitious Christmas I made bouche d' Noels for about five friends and family members. They were time consuming, since I made meringue mushrooms and cardinals to sit around the cake. Today I would still make the mushrooms, but I think I'd buy some ready-made cardinals and holly sprigs. Anyway, a really well executed bouche d'Noel is a joy to behold!
And I wouldn't make them for a bunch of people, but two Christmases ago I made a very special gingerbread house for my grandson. It was similar to the Seven Dwarves' house in Disney's Snow White. For the thatched roof I pinched the seams off of large shredded wheat biscuits, then split them in half and they made very convincing thatch! I don't think I would ever make those for more than one person/family at a time because that would require more space than I have. But smaller ginger bread houses are certainly a possibility. Fun to make and great fun to recieve. Especially for families with children.
And then there are always those wonderful, hip packing caramel/chocolate apples. Big ones are great, but so are smaller ones and you can make several kinds. A cheap hard plastic plate with three great apples on it wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow makes a great gift. Sometimes I pick up gold foil from a cake decorating shop and do a "Golden Apple." Blows people's minds and they are amazing! Do all the caramel and chocolate layers first but try to keep it smooth. Then coat with the gold foil, pick up a few ready made gold leaves from the bakery supply and put one with each stem. They are mind blowers! And delicious.
Jams or jellies. I'm doing peach just because ours seem to be extra flavorful this year. Even a week before Christmas last year I made blueberry jam with frozen berries that were on sale. I got more compliments on them! Believe me, I'm watching for a sale again this year!
Also lemon or lime curd.
I agree with the poster who suggested spiced or candied nuts and the quick breads.
Pumpkin is perfectly seasonal. Also consider lemon with lemon syrup poured over and let soak in. Or chocolate-macadamian. They can go in the freezer for later if the recipient is awash with cookies and other baked goods.
Chocolate-covered pretzel rods rolled in sunflower seeds, mini M&M's, and raisins. Salsas, fruit- or tomato-based. You can hot water bath them so they're shelf stable. I used to have a recipe for pears in white rum but I can't find it. It was fresh pears, peeled and sliced, put in canning jars, hot rum-sugar syrup poured over, and I think a couple whole cloves per jar. No hot water bath, just let the hot syrup set the seal.
Martha Stewart has a recipe for lavender salt that's just salt and lavender flowers. Good for lamb, chicken or fish. She shows it in a canning jar with a paper cap, tied with string. Or maybe a spice rub in jars.
Although it's a freezer idea, mushroom duxelles in logs. Folks can just chop off a piece to add to soups, omelets, gravies. Complete pesto doesn't freeze well, IMO, but you could do bags of basil-garlic-oil puree and in separate bags have the grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts with directions to puree them all together right before using.
Did anyone mention cheese straws? I use that same recipe and use my cookie press to make hearts and Christmas trees. They're great with soups or just snacking.
Have kids who like to decorate? They love to do a potato stamp, i.e. carve a star or heart or pine tree, etc. into a cut potato then stamp into red or green ink and stamp all over butcher paper. Wrap up food into a parcel shape and tie with raffia. Looks cute and homemade and better than mass produced crap.
Seasoned nuts, turtles, spiced pumpkin bread or white chocolate cranberry cookies?
Michael's has Martha Stewart packaging that looks good & does a decent job protecting the food. You'll want to take your 40% off coupon though:) Last year at Xmas they had miniature paper gingerbread houses that fit a couple truffles. Cute!
Yeah, love Big Lots -- last time I was there I bought some 32 ounce Snapware canisters with Xmas designs for $2.They even have gift tags on them! I haven't decide what I'm going to put in them -- I often do spiced and/or candied nuts, but I'm thinking these are a little big for that. Maybe I'll do a layered "bean soup mix in a jar" or some kind of baking mix.
Biscotti are always a hit with my friends, as are chocolate covered pretzels. I do the pretzel rods in caramel, then chocolate, and then roll in nuts or crushed peppermints.
For either, I wrap in the clear cellophane bags and tie with fancy ribbon. I have also done small regular pretzels dipped in chocolate and wrapped in red or green Chinese takeout cartons. The issue is usually that the wrapping ends up costing significantly more than the gift.