Homemade Gifts - Something for Everyone
Compiled by Ruth of Makey-Cakey
Homemade edible Christmas gifts are always a joy to receive, and knowing that someone has taken the time and care to make you something beautiful and delicious can be a welcome antidote to the over-commercialisation of Christmas that seems to be all around us.
However my enthusiasm for them conceptually is often outweighed by my lack of forward planning – I’m sure I’m not alone! Instead of busily preserving the best of the summer’s bounty so that come Christmas, I have a stash of nicely matured chutneys and jams to give, I generally find myself in late November with nothing more to show for my plans than a bookmarks folder on my laptop full of interesting pickles and a packet or two of labels and lids bought in optimism in August that this year would be different.
Well, I’m here to prove that you’re not too late! I’ve spent November trawling the blog archives from Daring Kitchen members from around the world (what a talented and diverse lot we are) to bring you some handpicked ideas of homemade loveliness that you’ve still got plenty of time to make. From tots to teens, friends, family and everyone in between, there really is something for everyone.
First up, you’ll be glad to know the chutney boat hasn’t sailed! There may not be time to brine and mature pickles, but this jewel-like Pear and Raisin Chutney by My Diverse Kitchen can be eaten as soon as it’s made. It keeps well too, and will brighten up any recipient’s larder into the New Year.
To make a fantastic gift for any cheese lover, why not team a jar with some of these celestial savoury Cheese and Walnut Shortbread biscuits by Laws of the Kitchen. Keep it festive with a starry selection, sophisticated with thin finger slices, or break out your craziest biscuit cutters and let your recipient puzzle out what’s what!
Since Christmas and chocolate go hand in hand, if you’re heading to a Christmas party, make yourself an instant hit with the hosts and all the guests by taking along a tray of these truly amazing sounding Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars by Drag it Through the Garden. Chocolate Brownie, topped with a layer of gooey marshmallows, and finished with chocolate peanut butter crispie: I think that’s a sure fire recipe to outshine all other desserts in the buffet!
If you’ve got a health-nut on your present list, then why not rustle up some of these fantastically sticky and gooey looking Date Sesame Seed Bars by Oggi – I Can Do That. With just three ingredients and no refined sugar they’re easy to make and guaranteed to satisfy sweet cravings the natural way.
Those that are more traditionally minded when it comes to Christmas are sure to appreciate a little box of these Orange and Chocolate Flavoured Marzipan Balls by Manus Menu. Homemade marzipan taste a million times better than shop bought, and these flavours add a delicious twist.
Similarly, these Checkerboard Cookies by Chef in Disguise are likely go down a treat. There’s even a helpful step-by-step tutorial to show you exactly how to create these beautiful little bites. I’m sure adding a pinch of festive spices to the mix would taste delicious and make your kitchen smell yummy into the bargain!
These Leia cupcakes by Test With Skewer are not strictly festive, but I couldn’t resist them, and I’m sure they would raise a huge smile on the face of any Star Wars fan or Sci-Fi geek that was lucky enough to receive them! She roped her little kitchen pixies into rolling the hair and adding the features – a fantastic idea to keep small hands occupied for a while. If Leia seems lacking in festive spirit, you could always “Christmas” them up with a cheeky little Santa hat or two…
How about this spicy, creamy, zingy Thai’d Up Peanut Butter by Bake Me Away. It would make a perfect ‘man’ present. I’m sure most men would also be partial to some home baked sweet treats too BUT sometimes you find yourself looking for a more obviously manly gift, and this may well fit the bill. That said, I’m sure a lot of ladies out there would love to have a jar of this in their kitchen cupboard, so don’t feel stereotyped in your festive gifting! Plus, with garlic and ginger a plenty, it packs a powerful punch against winter sniffles. It’s like peanut butter in a superhero suit.
If you’d like to imbue your family and friends with some liquid cold-fighting super powers, then why not rustle up some of this zingy Ginger Syrup by Cooking Weekends. Although it’s a summery recipe, a generous glug added to hot winter drinks would be lovely and warming – just what you need when it’s chilly outside – unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case add ice and water for instant refreshment. Either way, a bottle to stash in the fridge would be a lovely unusual present.
This next idea is universal (provided, that is, that your recipient likes almonds!). Make a big batch of these Honey-Cinnamon Roasted Almonds by Daily Nibbles, and team a bag of them with a book token for an avid reader, some beers for a Dad, brother or uncle, or some DVDs for a film buff – a truly versatile and delicious gift. Just remember to save a few for yourself.
Children can be tricky customers – parental views on things like chocolate and nuts can vary hugely from one family to the next. However this recipe for Fruit Leather by Within the Kitchen is unlikely to cause controversy. Packed with fruity goodness and wrapped in cute paper twists tied with ribbons, these will be a hit with parents and kids alike. The sky’s the limit when it comes to flavours (or at least the fruit section of your local grocery store) so once you’ve mastered the basic process, why not get creative?
Another one for the little ones, which although not edible, is still created in the kitchen: play dough. Creating Nirvana shares a fantastic idea for Fall Spice Play Dough, which with a little spice tweaking could very easily become Christmas Spice Play Dough. Although it’s not designed to be consumed, since it’s home made it contains no chemical nasties, so if any little bits are accidentally eaten by overenthusiastic toddlers, then there’s no need to panic.
And finally, I thoroughly recommend making these Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles (by my own good self, Makey-Cakey) for any ‘dairy-free’ friends you may have. They’re deep, dark, delicious and decadent – and not just for those that can’t eat milk – share them with everyone and there will be chocolaty smiles all round.
So, aprons on, wooden spoons in hand, go forth and cook up some Christmas magic!