A handmade gift is one of the best things you can give over the holidays. At a time when people spend so much money on frivolous things, a thoughtful, DIY gift is always appreciated. Around the holidays, I love to make packaged food items that I can gift to my family. Maybe it’s homemade chocolates, hot cocoa mix or candied nuts. Anything edible is always a hit!
For someone who loves to bake, this is a wonderful gift. Vanilla sugar can be used in cookies, in your morning coffee or even as a body scrub!
Scrap the pods out of one whole vanilla bean and mix with 2 cups of granulated sugar. Bury the bean in with the sugar in an airtight jar and keep for one to two weeks at least. Divide into cute jars for a great gift!
Hot Cocoa Mix
This mix will keep your loved ones warm all winter. Divide the mix into decorative jars and top with marshmallows for a simple stir and go hot cocoa mix.
6 tablespoons powdered creamer
6 tablespoons powdered milk
6 tablespoons Powdered Sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips M&Ms or your favorite chocolate
½ cup mini marshmallows
Combine dry ingredients and divide into jars. Top with marshmallows, chocolates and candy and put the lid on. When ready to make, combine 1/2 cup of mix with 1 cup boiling water.
Sure, you could go buy a box of chocolates, but homemade truffles will make such a thoughtful gift. They’re easy to make and are even a fun activity for the whole family to participate in! Use whatever flavor combinations you like.
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
lace the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.
Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside. In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.
Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.