Food Gifting

So here it is, Christmas Eve. Hopefully by now you’ve finished all of your goodie baking and gift buying, although, let’s face it, most of us still have quite a few last minute things to do. If you’re like me (which you probably are if you’re reading this), you’ve baked way more goodies than you know what to do with, and you have more people you’d like to give gifts to than you can afford. So for years, I’ve made a tradition of food gifting. Best of all: I get the joy of baking and gift giving without having to break the bank. This year I didn’t have the time or resources to get fancy with my food gifting, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t inspired. So for those of you looking to do some food gifting this evening or tomorrow, here are some resources that have inspired my food gifting in the past, and some new things I look forward to trying next year!

Cupcake Gifting

Cupcakes1. Scrapbooking supplies and cellophane make for beautiful cupcake wrapping (image from Taste of Home)
2. Disposable muffin trays make cupcake gifting easy (image from Scrapbooks etc.)
3. Make multi-layered cupcakes in a jar that are not only visually appealing, but easy to pack (image from The Kitchn)
4. Generally speaking, it’s hard to go wrong with simple, transparent packaging (image from Dress My Cupcake)
5. With just a few craft store items, you can make an impressive cupcake bouquet (image from Culinary Couture)
6. A simple box with a few embellishments makes for an attractive yet easy packaging option (image from Everyday Occasions)

Cookie Gifting

Cookies1. Simple bowls with festive paper and ribbon make for an elegant gift (image from Martha Stewart)
2. Cupcake liners and cellophane add a cute touch, while the initial and recipe personalize it (image from Country Living)
3. Why do all the baking when you can give the gift of fresh baked cookies anytime they’re wanted? (image from Garnish)
4. An understated box leaves a lot of room for creativity (image from Garnish)
5. Clear bags let the cookie be the thing to standout rather than the packaging (image from Nico and Lala)
6. A glass cookie jar complete with a label is the perfect way to gift cookies (image from Celebrations)

Truffle Gifting

Chocolates
1. Simple, clean boxes with festive tissue paper are always a solid truffle giving idea(image from Martha Stewart)
2. A hat box, or shallow round box can make a great truffle box (image from Go Make Me)
3. Make your own truffle boxes with colorful cardstock, and finish with cellophane (image from Alkaline Sisters)
4. Kitchenware tins like cake molds and tart pans make for unique truffle containers (image from Martha Stewart)
5. Clear boxes let the what’s inside be the star of the gift (image from Martha Stewart)
6. Individual wrapping makes every truffle a surprise (image from Such Pretty Things)

Happy baking and happy holidays!

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Spritz Cookies

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The final type of cookie I made for my annual Christmas cookie platter is one of the only recipes in which you’ll see me using a specialized piece of kitchen equipment. 99% of the time, I prefer to use things that can serve multiple uses. It’s just a principle of mine not to spend money on something I can only use for one thing in the kitchen, particularly if it’s not something I do very often. I think it stems from my poor, starving college student days… But this particular item was a gift from my Mum, and typically these things don’t cost very much. So what am I talking about? A cookie shooter. If you don’t have one, never fear! You can still easily make this recipe, you just won’t have the same fun shapes. But if you do decide to invest in a cookie shooter, it’s a great way to lure your kids, friends, or significant other into the kitchen to bake with you!

Spritz Cookies
Yields about 3 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:

2 sticks (226 grams) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract
food coloring

Start by preheating your oven to 400* Fahrenheit (205* Celsius). In a large bowl, cream the butter on high until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and mix until the sugars is well incorporated into the butter. Mix in the egg and almond extract until everything is thoroughly combined, and there are no lumps. One cup at a time, add the flour, mixing between each new addition. Your dough should be ever so slightly sticky, but most of it should still keep from sticky to your fingers when pinched. At this point, you can decide what, if any, coloring you’d like to do, and divide your dough based on the number of colors you plan to use. I decided to go with three colors based on the shapes I planned to use with my cookie shooter: plain dough for snowmen, green dough for trees, and red dough for poinsettia flowers. If you’re using a cookie shooter, I would suggest reading over the instructions before you start trying to mess with it, but as a general rule, you affix the tube and rod that will push the dough, load it with dough, attach the stencil and finally the stencil lock. Regardless of whether you’re using a cookie shooter or not, set the baking sheets and bake for 6-9 minutes, just until they’re barely browning.

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Once you remove the cookies from the oven, you can set them to cool on a cooling rack (they don’t need to spend any extra time on the warm baking sheet). One word of caution, if you’re using the cookie shooter, I found my cookies didn’t stick very well, and therefore didn’t pull away from the cookie shooter, when the baking sheet was warm. So if you’re using a cookie shooter, let your baking sheets cool in before you load them with cookies.

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Happy baking!

Sources:
Recipe slightly adapted from my Mum who adapted it from Betty Crocker

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Batter Truffles

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Just like the chocolate and peppermint cookie sandwiches, it’s always good to have a few easy, delicious recipes under your belt, especially when you’re baking in mass quantities. Even better if those recipes are really versatile. This, is one of those recipes. I stumbled across this recipe last April and whipped up a batch of simple chocolate on chocolate cake batter truffles for a family event. They were so popular that I was asked to make them again for another family event, this time for about 100 people. Side note, making over 100 truffles of any sort in the middle of summer in 90* weather makes for a rather stressful experience. Just saying. But with Christmas just around the corner, I decided to break out these little gems again, this time with some festive peppermint flavoring. I can already hear my husband and brother-in-law drooling.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Batter Truffles
Yields about 30 truffles

Ingredients:

For the truffles:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. peppermint extract
3-5 tbsp. milk

For the coating:
4 bars (400 grams) white chocolate
1-2 tsp. vegetable oil
3 candy canes, finely crushed

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Birch Bark Cookies

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Another staple in our household for Christmas cookie baking is the birch bark cookie. My Mum came across this recipe years ago in a small magazine that I have since forgotten the name of, and it’s been a must-bake ever since. With a chewy cinnamon cookie base, and two kinds of chocolate coating, this cookie has always been a real crowd-pleaser at every Christmas even we’ve taken it to!

Birch Bark Cookies
Yields about 20 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (57 grams) butter, room temperature
3-4 tbsp. whole milk (regular milk works too)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour

For the coating:
12 oz. (360 grams) white chocolate
3 oz. (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate

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Thumbprint Jam Cookies

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Every year my Mum asks what kind of cookies my Pappo and I would like us to make during the annual Christmas baking extravaganza. I always request the candy cane sugar cookies, while my Pappo wants thumbprint jam cookies, preferably in several flavors. So here’s another family favorite just in time for Christmas cookie baking!

Thumbprint Jam Cookies
Yields about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (113 grams) butter, at room temperature
1 (200 gram) package light cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. fresh orange zest
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the topping:
Assorted jams (I like to use raspberry and orange marmalade)
1 bar (100 grams) white chocolate
2 tsp. vegetable oil

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