Homemade Holiday Food Gifts from the Heart
Handmade food gifts not only showcase your culinary skills but also convey your heartfelt sentiments. They're gestures of love and effort that make the act of giving even more meaningful. So, this season, consider adding a personal touch to your gifts with these delightful homemade treats. After all, the joy of giving is even sweeter when it's made with your hands and heart.
Spiced Roasted Pecans:
Few things beat the aroma of freshly roasted nuts, and a gift of spiced pecans has the added bonus of making your kitchen smell heavenly while you’re roasting them. Coated in a blend of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of cayenne for a subtle kick, these crunchy treats are an addictive snack or handy salad topping. Package them in mason jars tied with a ribbon or in decorative bags for a delightful present that's sure to please anyone with a penchant for savory snacks.
- 2 cups shelled pecan halves
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar or brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add pecans and toss to coat.
- Transfer the egg-coated nuts to the dry spice mixture, and toss again to evenly coat the nuts with the seasoning.
- Spread the pecans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Let them cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.
This recipe is very flexible and you can adjust the spice mix to your preference.
Chocolate or Peppermint Bark:
The versatility of chocolate bark knows no bounds: peppermint and almond are traditional for the holidays, but feel free to get imaginative! Pretzel-almond? White and dark chocolate swirled? Dried pineapple? Shelled pumpkin seeds? A sprinkle of savory spice? Anything goes! Experiment with almonds, pistachios, dried fruits, or swirls of different chocolates for a delightful assortment. Package these in decorative tins or clear bags for a visually appealing and delectable gift.
- 28 ounces chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (can be a mix of white & dark, milk chocolate and dark chocolate, or all one type of chocolate – it’s up to you!)
- 1/2 teaspoon flavoring extract such as peppermint, vanilla, almond, or orange
- 3/4 cup toppings: try crushed candy canes, nuts, seeds, crushed toffee, chopped pretzels
- Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and microwave for 30 second increments until melted. Stir until smooth. (If using different types of chocolate, microwave whichever one will the the “base” of your bark now).
- If you are using a flavoring extract, add flavoring extract to chocolate and stir until smooth.
- Line a 13x9 cookie sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
- Spread the melted chocolate into the lined cookie sheet.
If you are using only one type of chocolate, skip to Step 8.
- Place the chocolate in the fridge for 10 minutes to partially set. Do NOT go past 10 minutes in the fridge or you won’t be able to add your pretty toppings! The chocolate should be just set around the edges but still partially melted in the middle. If you let the bottom layer harden completely, the next layers may not stick to it.
- If using a second type of chocolate, place those chocolate chips in a medium bowl and microwave for 30 second increments until melted. Again, if desired, add flavoring extract and stir until smooth.
- Spread the second layer of chocolate over the bottom layer. You can spread it evenly in one layer, or create a swirl pattern if you like.
- Top with crushed candy, nuts, or toppings of your choice.
- Let harden in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set.
Remove from the fridge and let the bark sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Use a straight edge chef's knife to cut the bark into pieces by cutting straight down through the layers of the bark. Serve and enjoy.
From candied citrus peels to pretzels and even marshmallows, dipping treats in chocolate turns them into luxurious indulgences. Whether it's the tangy zest of citrus paired with rich dark chocolate or the satisfying crunch of pretzels coated in a smooth milk chocolate shell, these treats offer a delightful contrast of flavors. Dress them up with colorful festive sprinkles, contrasting drizzles, or edible shimmer so they feel extra special. Package them in elegant boxes lined with parchment paper for a touch of sophistication.
- Pretzels, marshmallows, or candied citrus peels
- Melting chocolate or chocolate chips
- Toppings (optional: crushed nuts, sprinkles, etc.)
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler.
- Dip each candied citrus peel, pretzel or marshmallow into the melted chocolate, covering it halfway or fully.
- Let the excess chocolate drip off.
- Place on a parchment-lined tray and sprinkle with toppings if desired.
- Let them set at room temperature or in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
There's something irresistible about the combination of sweet and salty, and salted caramel sauce nails that balance perfectly. If there’s a caramel lover on your list, this homemade caramel sauce will let them indulge in homemade caramel macchiatos, decadent hot cocoa, sticky bread puddings, and dipped apple snacks all winter long.
Cranberry Orange Biscotti
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp orange zest, about 1 orange
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 3 oz white chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate large bowl beat together butter, sugar, orange zest and almond extract with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two stages, beating until fully combined. Stir in the cranberries.
- Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape the dough into a log 4 inches wide x 8 inches long.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Using a serrated knife cut the log diagonally into 3/4 in slices. Arrange the biscotti onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper cut side down.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool.
- Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until smooth. Drizzle the white chocolate over the biscotti and allow to fully cool before serving.
This one is technically still a food, it’s just not human food! Birdseed ornaments make decorative and functional gift for nature lovers and budding young naturalists. You can make them in a variety of shapes, and tie each one with a decorative string for hanging (use natural materials such as jute or twine!) These charming ornaments can be hung outdoors, providing feathered friends with a nourishing treat while adding a touch of whimsy to any garden.
- 1 cup birdseed
- 1/4 cup boiling water (for dissolving gelatin)
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- Cookie cutters
- Twine or string
- Heat water in a saucepan until warm, then stir in the gelatin until dissolved.
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the birdseed and stir until well combined.
- Place cookie cutter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Fill each cookie cutter halfway up with the seed mixture, pressing down firmly.
- Place a loop of twine in each cookie cutter, hanging half the loop over the edge of the cookie cutter (this will become the hanging loop later)
- Fill cookie cutters the rest of the way up so the twine is sandwiches between the two layers.
- Allow gelatin to set overnight. (If you are having trouble getting your gelatin to set, it’s possible the room is too warm–try popping the ornaments in the fridge to help them firm up.)
- Carefully remove each ornament from its cookie cutters and if desired, thread a ribbon or decorative twine through the hanging loop.