After all it is the thought that counts...isn't it?
Well it is a scary thought but Christmas is almost here. Are you ready? I am not sure I am! Every year I tell myself that next year I am going to be more organised with my present buying and yet here I find myself again with no planning in place. If you are anything like me you’ll find that your list of people that you need to buy presents for seems to grow each year. With end of year presents for school or kindy teachers to family and friends it can be a tough job, not to mention an expensive one! There is nothing nicer I think than to receive a homemade present, particularly when they are edible and prettily packaged. The appreciation, be it a friend or teacher is shown in their reaction and comments that they can’t help but make. Even though it is only a small gesture – it’s a personal one, showing what I deem to be the best sentiments of the season.
Here are but a few of my all time favorites that many an appreciative friend or colleague has received over the years. I like to do a mix of savoury and sweet as I know that although my idea of a decadent chocolate brownie is pure heaven, it is not everyone's cup of tea. It can be easy to rustle up an army of willing kitchen elves to join you in your work – these recipes are perfect to share with the kids, not least because small hands are notably adept at rolling, scattering and dipping but because it teaches kids all about the art of giving. After all that is what Christmas is all about isn’t it!
After a couple of hours, you'll have a large enough stash of treats for even the trickiest giftees on your list.
And most importantly, don't forget to leave something tasty out for Santa or Rudolph, some Magic Reindeer Food perhaps?
If one of your giftees has more of a savory tooth then these spiced nuts are sure to be hit. So incredibly moreish they'll be gone in no time!
1/2 cup butter
4 cups mixed nuts (you can choose any of your favourites but I think a mix of macadamia, almond, brazil and cashew works really well)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs soya sauce
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground cloves
Melt butter in the microwave or stove top - add Worcestershire sauce, soya sauce, salt and spices. Mix well and add nuts. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes - tossing as you go to ensure they toast evenly.
Cool and store in an airtight jar until you are ready to package them up. I recommend you do this just before giving the gift if possible as you want the nuts to be as fresh and crunching as they possibly can be.
Layered Chocolate Brownie
Super easy but so effective I am amazed at how much of a wow factor I get every time I give this to someone new. You can use any jar you like or may have handy. This is a great gift for someone that is perhaps not such a great baker but loves the end result!
Layer in the chosen jar in the following order:
Write on the label (you then tie this around the neck of the jar with ribbon or taffeta):
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup cocoa
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup chocolate chips – brown or white chocolate works well
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup milk
Pour dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix wet with dry ingredients. Pour into a greased tin approximately 20cm in diameter. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes.
Cool, cut into squares, dust with icing sugar.
Serve with fresh strawberries and cream, or equally as delicious on their own.
Microwave Lemon Curd
Until I came across this recipe I used to think that homemade lemon curd was a real chore! Honestly this just couldn’t be easier. Coming into the summer months it is so versatile and makes a really lovely gift.
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 lemons – rind and juice
Melt butter in microwave – set aside. Beat eggs and sugar. Add lemon rind and juice. Add to butter.
Microwave for 3 – 4 minutes on high. Stir every 30 seconds. Curd will thicken more as it cools. Pour into clean jars and refrigerate.