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Homemade Food Gifts - Christmas and Hanukkah, 2015 -


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For the past few years I have been making and giving homemade food gifts to members of my family as small Christmas gifts. Example include last year's hot chocolate mix with homemade marshmallows, other years have included filled chocolates and also truffles. This year, I am thinking of chocolate cups filed with a ganache and topped with some sort of caramel topping. Ever open to new ideas, I am wondering what other people will be making?

Edited by Smithy
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what a wonderful idea !

 

some time ago, i made fruit cakes.  this was in 1999 before the Y2K catastrofy

 

It must have started with perhaps a Gourmet Rx  :  you mixed up a batter, added your dried fruit and then baked the FC's

 

at a much lower temp that at that time I though  :  300 for a longer time than I thought  2 hours ?  3 ?

 

the dried fruit came from TJ's, and included currants, apricots, cherries  etc   

 

the currants were seasonal and they no longer carry them

 

but there were no 'green' or fluorescent red items in these cakes  just the good stuff

 

I baked them in those aluminum containers that you get in the Grocery Store    I lined them in parchment paper

 

and used them several time

 

the key was this crumb was a light brown and delicious in its self  

 

then while still warm  I added I think 1/2 cup of rum to the small cakes  then after this was absorbed

 

they were wrapped up and kept for several months until Gifted.

 

Ive gone though many OS upgrades and HD upgrades

 

I sure wish I had the basic Rx for this and the times and temps

 

the aging might make this a nice easter gift ?

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I've got homemade limecello that I plan to bottle up.  Also the lime-ginger marmalade that I made recently.  Not sure what else to add.  There are lots of limes on my tree so I could go with an all-lime theme and make some lime cookies or something.  I saw a recipe for pineapple preserve with rosemary that I thought sounded good.

 

Not sure if I will do fruitcake this year or not.  If so, I had best get at it.  

 

rotuts - I usually riff off this basic fruitcake recipe which may help with time/temp estimates for fruitcakes.  I usually use dried fruits instead of candied except I do use candied citrus peels and ginger.   I usually plump the dried fruits a bit first by steaming so they are not too dry.

I did one with dried pineapple and mango, candied orange peel, coconut and macadamia nuts that was very good.   I like half brandy, half Grand Marnier (or Gran Gala) for my alcohol dose.

 

Southern Delight Fruitcake

 
1 lb candied cherries
1 lb candied pineapple
1 lb pecans
1 1/2 cup butter
2 c. sugar
6 eggs
3 c flour
4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
 
Brandy
 
Cut up fruit and nuts, add 1 c. flour.
Mix well, let stand
Cream butter, add sugar, 1 c. at a time. Add salt, vanilla and mix well.
Add fruit and nuts and mix well.
Pour batter into 2 regular sized loaf pans or multiple smaller pans, lightly greased with butter and lined with parchment paper.
Bake 2.5 - 3 hrs (gas 250 deg, electric 275 deg) with a pan of water in the oven.  Test w/ toothpick after 2.5 hrs.  If not sticky, it's done.  Do not overcook.
Sprinkle cakes with brandy and let cake cool completely before removing from pan.  Wrap cakes in cheesecloth, sprinkle with brandy and wrap tightly with foil and place in zip-lock bags.  Repeat brandy treatment every few days for about 2 weeks and let age another 2-4 weeks or longer.
Edited by blue_dolphin
left butter out of ingredient list (log)
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My confectionery partner, who is so busy that she can hardly take the time to breathe, has lent me her adorable Tomric chocolate mold of little boys and girls ( http://tomric.com/moulds?product_id=3496) and I think I'l make a number of them for little gifts.  They look so appealing in pairs backed on gold cardboard, wrapped in cellophane.  And I'll probably make chocolate coated, almond filled toffee as usual.  Boy, is it popular.

 

(We do give confectionery and cooked and other gifts all year long to quite a number of folks, so that Christmas gifts are not a big item.  I love making the stuff and then can't keep it around the house for fear of eating them all.  This fall we gave away bushels and bushels of apples and apple butter and apple leather and dried apple rings. )

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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rotuts - For future use, you might consider doing what I do - Year round, I keep a HUGE apothecary type jar full of dried fruits with a bottle or two of brandy and rum poured over top. I stir it up occasionally and add extra fruit and a bit more of the liquid stuff if I use any or it 'dissolves' somewhat. You can keep this mixture for years and it will never go bad. Then you can cook up fruitcakes on a whim and give them out almost immediately rather than having to wait so long for them to 'age' gracefully (although they will still do that as well). The 'syrup' is also decadent on ice cream if you are stuck for a fast dessert (for adults).

Just make sure you have a well sealing top. I learned that the hard way when once, before I got wise and put in an 'insurance' topper (plastic wrap will do fine or that sticky freezer wrap stuff) under the lid, a fruit fly family decided to take up residence when they detected that lovely sweet liquid and managed to find a teensy space to squeeze through into the jar. Added 'protein' (they 'drowned happy and quickly) but since they were not part of my recipe, I had to throw out a lot of yummy booze-soaked fruit.

If you don't want to actually make fruitcakes though, how about just bottling up some dried fruits in booze and giving those out as fast and simple adult gifts at the holidays. Along that same line, booze soaked fresh cherries or even pears also make a great gift.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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I do the same thing every year - but no one seems to mind the repetition. :raz:  I make an assortment of chocolates and other candy - truffles, molded, filled chocolates, dipped centers, caramel, barks, nougat, brittles - and on and on. About 15 or so different candies. This year I have also candied fruit - cherries, apricots, tangerines, meyer lemons and regular lemons some of which will be dipped in chocolate. I make up bags for family, friends and some work contacts of both my husband and myself.

 For close friends and family (and there is a lot of extended family! ) I add one or more jars of the various preserves and pickles that I have been putting up all summer. Some times I put in a mini loaf of bread to go with the preserves. I am required to make stollen for Christmas day breakfast. Since my recipe makes a lot of dough I bake one large stollen for the family gathering and about 5-6 mini stollen for family that live too far away to be with us. (The rest of the candied fruit goes in the stollen.)

 

The last few years I have been packing everything in reusable grocery bags - I especially like the Trader Joes' ones. Wegman's  has nice, inexpensive ones too.

 

My chocolate order from Gygi's arrived today - well, half of it arrived and their customer service promises me another box is one the way - so I'm just starting to think about what I'll be making. 

 

Edited to add: Shelby, are you doing your Christmas baskets this year? They always look spectacular!

Edited by ElainaA (log)
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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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May I please join your family, ElaineA. :biggrin:

I think I'm making the apple cider caramels you posted about on the confections thread. Doesn't that, sort of, make you part of the family? (I'm thinking I will use them as centers and dip them. I'm terrible at wrapping caramels. They always look wonky.)

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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I try to inspire people to cook, so I tend to give baskets of ingredients that help less skilled cooks get more complex foods faster: flavored salts, flavored sugar, flavored vinegars, chile oils made with different chiles, and flavor extracts. I gave out so much vanilla in previous years that I won't be doing it again for a while. But, I did make some good tangerine extract this year and will probably make a few more just for fun. I am going to try to make some pompelmocello this season, don't know if I will have it done in time for the holidays, though.

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Rotuts, you might try an old Southern favorite -- Eudora Welty's White Fruit Cake. I generally add a greater variety of fruit than called for. 

 

I typically do Christmas gift  baskets for friends and some co-workers. For years, I did fudge and pralines and candied pecans. This year, think there's going to be a bigger selection of savories -- some bacon jam, some tapenade, some smoked salmon spread, and an assortment of homemade crackers, along with more minimal sweets.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I'm going to make a batch of candied ginger, some glacé fruits (starting with dried fruit), and some "cookie kits" which is just the dry ingredients measured and mixed in one ziplock bag and the other non-perishable ingredients in other bags, with the printed recipe and a nice mixing bowl (or one of the large measures big enough for use as a mixing bowl). 

 

I have this old recipe for "basic cookie" to which all kinds of things can be added for the variations, which I mix up in large batches and store in the freezer in one of the large Cambro containers (8 quart).

 

Nearer the holidays, I am going to make a few of my fruited cocoa cake, which keeps well for a week or so but not for months like a regular fruit cake.

Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I try to inspire people to cook, so I tend to give baskets of ingredients that help less skilled cooks get more complex foods faster: flavored salts, flavored sugar, flavored vinegars, chile oils made with different chiles, and flavor extracts. I gave out so much vanilla in previous years that I won't be doing it again for a while. But, I did make some good tangerine extract this year and will probably make a few more just for fun. I am going to try to make some pompelmocello this season, don't know if I will have it done in time for the holidays, though.

I love this approach! However, in previous years I've been flummoxed by the gracious responses to such gifts, all of which were variations on 'thank you very much, what do I do with it?' . :laugh:

Do you include recipes, approaches, writeups? How do you reassure your recipients that you're giving them a fun gift?

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I love this approach! However, in previous years I've been flummoxed by the gracious responses to such gifts, all of which were variations on 'thank you very much, what do I do with it?' . :laugh:

Do you include recipes, approaches, writeups? How do you reassure your recipients that you're giving them a fun gift?

 

I print out labels for the bottles and jars on my computer, and stick them on with packing tapes, so they stay on pretty well and are sealed away from moisture. (green chile oil looks a LOT like jalapeno oil) On the label, I put some basic suggestions like 'add a few drops to stir frys and soups' or 'sprinkle on buttered toast and hot or cold cereal, sweeten coffee or tea'. I guess I generally talk to people about the items when I gift them. I have never shipped any homemade liquids. Some things like the seasoned salts are pretty simple to use, I'll generally say something like 'I really like this one on oven fries'. Recipe cards are a good idea though -even for easy things like salad dressing. I have MasterCook on my computer, so it would be pretty quick to do.

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I've given French Bark, using Ina Garten's recipe (less time consuming than truffles) and both tasty and colorful.  You can substitute a different nut or combination of other dried fruit

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/french-chocolate-bark-recipe.html

 

Lately I've been giving savory items such as my homemade rub, quince chutney, spiced nuts, homemade chipotle sauce. 

 

For host/hostess gifts, the most appreciated gifts are herb-flavored butters given in pretty but heavy glass  cups (often I use votive or candle holders).  I use either rosemary or dill for the flavors.  

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Last year was the first year I gave a food gift and it was so well received (and envied by those who didn't get one) that I'm going to do it again this year for others too.

 

For a few family members and friends who like to cook, I put together a "Mexican dinner party" package that included:

- a big jar of roasted salsa verde (my go-to recipe is from Bayless's "Salsas that Cook")

- a jar of red chile paste (guajillo/ancho combo), with a few easy recipes--beef chili, slow-roasted pork, enchillada sauce--to make use of it.

- a bottle of tequila

 

The only trick with this is making sure you have tomatillos for the salsa verde. In New England, not easy to find in December. Luckily, roasted tomatillos freeze beautifully, so I have about 20 lbs in my freezer now, most from my own garden.

 

This was a big hit, and siblings that didn't get one demanded one this year. So I just hope I don't use all my tomatillos for this, I need some for myself to get through the winter.

 

 

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YES PLEASE ! here is my first idea for the year and my theme for gift giving this year is "more is more and upcyle, recycle put some heart in it and give it away" 

 

 

 

I am going to make Turkish delight and this is the first combo ..oh my freaking goodness this went well together 

 

/22460546437_593c3a51be.jpg

 

now the hard part ..make the same flavors together into candies that look lovely as well as taste this nice  .

 

I will be using the apple juice, blackberry and this grape juice to make three different flavors or Turkish delight but have no idea bout what I will do with the other two ..practice I guess to start! I think candy making is fun. 

 

up cycling a LOT …

 

I have vanilla galore what is so fun and I can not wait to use is a friend of mine gave me a couple of dozen little glass extract bottles that look like maple syrup containers they are being labeled ..another thing I have to figure out it would look crappy to use the sharpy like I usually do I need to figure out how to make labels 

 

please you guys how about some nice inexpensive but decorative ideas for bottling the insane amount of booze I have made??  I have nocino ready for gift giving how do I present it as a gift I wonder?

as well as the nicely and shamelessly regiiftble now because it is nicely  reformulated to make the undrinkable very nice indeed….now   it is great for dipping biscotti …next thing will be to find a cute way to  bottle and package it with some home made biscotti ? I go the taste down it is the presentation I need help with ! I…I am digging out everything I have as potential but if you have some great package ideas to go along with the food gifts ..especially liquids and I have to mail a lot of them ..thanks in advance >

 

the kids want to give cotton candy and I have a huge Seattle worlds fair machine ..how is the best way to package cotton candy for gifts? 

 

the real and grafted kids and grandkids in my life are getting my heirloom cookbooks cleaned up and I have been writing   notes to them along with my tweaks of the recipes… I am planning a party and will have the details of that soon it will be all about homemade gifting 

 

thanks for the thread I look forward to seeing …is to ok when talking about food gifts we really do talk about the packaging as well ? you guys are amazing and I want to tap ideas ..can not believe I just found pinterest where the hell was I ?

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Nearer the holidays, I am going to make a few of my fruited cocoa cake, which keeps well for a week or so but not for months like a regular fruit cake.

I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn't jump for joy upon receiving that fruited cocoa cake.  I've blessed your name repeatedly since you shared that recipe!

 

I tend to give bags of all of the regular 'goodies' that I make for the holidays to folks who come by on Christmas Eve, but who we don't really exchange gifts with.  Same thing for neighbors.  Assorted cookies and candies mostly.  I'm hoping to make Darienne's Enstrom's-style toffee again this year.  It is amazing!

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 I'm hoping to make Darienne's Enstrom's-style toffee again this year.  It is amazing!

Wish it were MY recipe.  It's simply a copy-cat recipe and I can't even find the original site anymore.  I just have the recipe from somewhere....???? :blush:

 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Please help!  Where, oh where, can I find the recipe for the Fruited Cocoa Cake?  Think  I've seen it, but can't remember where.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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hummingbirdkiss - For the nocino, since you probably want to do smallish bottles (?), what about using tall skinny bottles similar to this? https://www.ebottles.com/showbottles-bottle-1442-kw-OIL_BOTTLE_(DORICA)_GLASS.htm I think they hold 10 ounces each.

As for a label, if you have good printing or writing skills, you could just use a stick-on white label and a marker, or you could buy plain brown mailing tags (and write on them) to tie around the neck with twine (think like Martha Stewart). If you want to be more festive, use some skinny red ribbon maybe (or even candy-stripe a bit of twine with a red marker). Or you can easily design and print up sticky sheets of labels on your computer/printer, peel them off and stick on the front of the bottle, whatever it contains. You could even get the kids to design the labels, scan their drawings (perhaps only give them festive colours and say go to it!) into your printer and reduce them to size, etc. and print them out on anything you want (even if not sticky) and tie them on.

The bottles should be fairly easy to wrap with bubble wrap (for mailing), especially if tucked into the very middle of a package surrounded by other things to support them.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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I want to send some pickled peppers  and pickled  sour grapes …do you think I could vacuum seal instead of jarring them? thinking  of the space they wouldn't take up! and less glass in the box? it sure would look terrible opening a package and finding a sealed bag of peppers but I could put more stuff in the boxes if I do that with the pickles ..then maybe put them in a sealed flat  container ? OY I DONT KNOW THIS ALL LOOKS LIKE CRAP NOW :( 

I have 6 "care packages" on the table trying to fill them with a Puget Sound tasting party in a box  for folks I will not get to see during the holidays… I have a bunch of jarred and dry things in there that I made and I purchased a few local products ..am adding dessert wine and roasted coffee  and before the package goes I will put a loaf of homemade bread… a savory and a sweet homemade something in there (biscotti or Italian  pepper cookies for the wine and coffee  ) …they are large boxes but are filling up fast…my problem is tit all looks so terrible … just like I tossed crap in with no thought ..not happy with this and there is no "wow" factor ….presentation matters when you open a gift package I think … ..I am sure they will be appreciated …but I wanted them to be prettier ..the folks receiving these boxes ..I adore them and want them to feel it when the box is opened ….now it just looks like  a box of food… ..oh well I am probably the only one who will care ..but shoot …argh these look awful ..guess it is what it is ..a box of food …maybe when I get the baked and freshly  things in it will be nicer to open 

 

 

not thinking the pickled peppers in a sealed bag are going to make this look any better argh 

 

 

I love sending boxes …just hate how these look right now and am having kind of a fit over it ..any advice on perking up the look of a mailed box would be appreciated for sure 

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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