I know it seems early to write this post, but it’s always a good idea to plan ahead since we’ve already finished the first week of November and Chrismas is just around the corner. Plus, we can all admit that time does fly, FAST. Delicious baked good make a thoughtful gift during the holidays. Plus, you can spread the sweet love to all your friends and family (while being cost-effective for that Christmas budget).
It’s essential to wrap these yummy treats with a presentation that is both creative and beautiful. Head down to your local craft store or dollar store and find some nice jars, baskets, Christmas boxes, or even a coffee mug. Also, buy cellophane, pretty colored tissue paper, and ribbons. As you guessed it, this helps to add color and warmth to your gift. Adding a little card is always a lovely touch to include. I thought these printable cards are so adorable (see photo). Kudos to Jeannette Ordas and Everyone Like Sandwiches Designs for making these cards available for all to enjoy for free, just download this PDF.
Below are a few great home made recipes:
Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti (recipe adapted from Real Simple)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios
- Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Beat in the almond extract.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Mix in the cranberries and pistachios.
- Divide the dough in half and shape into two 10-by-2-inch logs. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until just golden around the edges and firm to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300° F. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until dry and crisp, 15 to 18 minutes per side.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
Cinnamon Sugared Walnuts (receipe adapted from Eat Good 4 Life)
1 lb whole walnuts
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk, I used low fat milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a saucepan combine the sugar, milk, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk over medium high heat until all of the ingredients are combined completely, then stop stirring and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture gently until it reaches 235-245 degrees (soft ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. I actually reached 240 for mine.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add walnuts working as quickly as possible to coat them all.
- Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Break apart any big chunks and allow to cool completely.
Homemade Marshmallows (receipe adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
- Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
- With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
- Generously dust an 8-by-12-inch glass-baking pan with confectioners’ sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust top with sugar; wet your hands, and pat it to smooth. Dust with confectioners sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Turn out onto a board; cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into 1 1/2-inch squares, and dust with more confectioners’ sugar.
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