Beautifully packaged, thoughtful and delicious edibles from the kitchen make great hostess and holiday gifts. Some require a bit of prep and others come together quickly and can easily be made in large batches so you can make several gifts in an afternoon.
Here are some of my favorite handmade food gifts that I’ve seen or given over the years:
1. Hot cocoa mix
I’ve made and gifted batches of these in many forms. One of my favorites is a maple hot cocoa, which uses maple sugar in the mix. It looks beautiful in a Weck jar; layered in variegated rows of rich black cocoa, dark brown sugar and little flecks of salt sprinkled throughout.
2. Homemade marshmallows
The perfect accessory to a jar of hot cocoa mix.
3. Flavored salts
This one is very appreciated by those who really love to cook and also, love salt. My favorite is vanilla salt. Encourage the recipients of such a fine gift to sprinkle it on baked goods, popcorn and over just-sliced summer tomatoes. You can also use dried herbs and spices to create your own seasoned salt blend.
4. Flavored sugars
Similar to flavored salts, scented sugars add a nice crisp crunch to baked goods and impart a subtle flavor. I love using the toffee colored, large crystals of turbinado sugar mixed with a vanilla bean to give along with coffee beans or beautifully packaged tea. You can also mix sugar with citrus zests, which are great for rimming cocktail glasses.
5. Cranberry chutney
Diane Morgan shares the recipe for this lovely cranberry chutney, which also includes fresh pears and apples, and roasted hazelnuts, in her class. It's a perfect side dish to serve at holiday meals.
Melted chocolate poured into a small round and then topped with any number of toasted nuts, dried fruit or candies. Mendiants are easy-to-make chocolate candies that always impress.
7. Flavored liquors
A simple bottle of vodka turns into your own brew when you add in different botanicals, such as vanilla beans, poached quince, cinnamon sticks, etc. It takes a few weeks for the flavor to infuse into the alcohol, but once it does you have a unique bottle waiting to be turned into festive cocktails. See our roundup of infused vodka recipes.
8. Packaged mulling spices
Make packaged mulling spices for wine or cider. You could also give a bottle of wine along with the spices.
9. Infused oils
In the same way of alcohol, you can scent good quality olive oil with fresh herbs and spices. I love a good chile oil to finish roasted vegetables. For the best flavor, gently warm the oil with whatever ingredients you are infusing it with and then let it cool. Bottle once cool.
10. Homemade extracts
It’s easy to make extracts at home. They just take a bit of time to allow the flavor to fully develop but the wait is worth it. The flavor is pure, unadulterated and clean.
11. Homemade bitters
I did this last year and while the set up was quite a bit of work, once I had it I was able to make dozens of different types of bitters each tailored to my friends' tastes. They were a hit.
12. Spice rubs
Perfect for a pit master! In her food gifts class, Diane Morgan teaches you how to make custom spice blends for meat, seafood and vegetables. She also offers guidance on how to toast and grind spices.
13. For the tea lover
Gift an antique tea cup filled with fragrant tea bags alongside and a package of homemade cookies .
14. For the coffee enthusiast
A bag of freshly ground whole beans, a simple mug, some vanilla sugar (mentioned above) and a package of biscotti would make a lovely gift for a coffee lover.
15. Caramel sauce
Friends with a sweet tooth can use this decadent caramel sauce in their morning coffee, to top ice cream, in place on syrup on your pancakes, to garnish blondies or brownies , or simply enjoyed with a spoon. Caramel sauce recipe.
[box type="shadow"]Check out Sweet & Savory Food Gifts for more fabulous ideas and step-by-step instruction on how to make and package creative handmade food gifts, including limoncello, braised onions and Diane Morgan's famous holiday pecans.
Included in the course materials are free printable recipe cards and gift tags that are sure to turn your homemade food gift into a beautifully packaged and appreciated present![/box]