Homemade Holiday Food Gifts

I would love to hear about your favorite homemade food gifts to give and receive! Recipes would be awesome!

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This recipe is a PITA, but I make 2 or 3 batches every year. One BIL refers to it as “crack candy,” one sis hides her stash. Co-workers say they feel guilty not paying for it. Warning, I have a special non-stick pot and candy thermometer just for this toffee.

16 oz of dark chocolate (I prefer 65%)
2 cups slivered almonds
1-1\4 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1 cup butter

Prep a 12x9 cookie sheet with parchchment
Toast the almonds in a large frying pan
Finely chop the almonds
Melt butter in heavy sauce pan
Add sugar, corn syrup and water to the butter; cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to hard crackle stage (300-310)
Remove toffee mixture from heat, quickly stir in 1/2 of toasted almonds and spread onto cookie sheet
Let toffee cool
Melt 1/2 the chocolate and spread on the cool side of toffee; spread 1/2 of almonds and lightly press
Flip the toffee
Melt the other 1/2 chocolate, spread on the cool side, spread the toasted almonds
Break into pieces


Might not be what you have in mind, but this is the 3rd year we have cured & canned olives. I buy ripe, raw green olives at my local farmers market, then do a 2 week cure. Canned then today, 47 pints! We give these as gifts & they seem to be enjoyed by all :slight_smile:


Its exactly the kind of thing I had in mind!

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I’ll be keeping this toffee in mind to make MIL, it’s her favorite.

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Those olives look wonderful! I’m jealous that you are able to get them where you live.

Yes, we’re lucky to live in the SF Bay Area with an abundance of wonderful produce, meats, fish & poultry virtually at our fingertips…

I make hot chocolate mix.

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1/4 t salt

Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Rub the seeds into the sugar. Using a whisk, mix in the cocoa powder and salt.

Add 2 T to hot milk and mix.

I always have a supply on hand for my family’s consumption.

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Every year I grab a few family members to help me make toffee. I still use my Grandmother’s secret recipe (which she refused to give to anyone else). My Great-Grandmother and Grandmother used to make tons of the toffee to sell. Then they just keep making it and giving it away. I have continued the tradition. Generally we make about 6-8 large batches which takes over my house and fills it with the smell of sugar and toffee for a few days. Interestingly, after making it for so long, I don’t have any desire to eat the stuff. I presume others enjoy it since we start getting requests and inquiries in November.


I make this too! I have been sprinkling flake sea salt on about half of it. My recipe is from December 2011 Bon Appetit’s DIY Holiday feature. I short-cut it a bit- instead of marcona almonds, I buy toasted slivered almonds from Trader Joe’s which saves the nut chopping and toasting. We make about a triple batch and give it to teachers, babysitters, etc. I admit to saving all the little crumbles from the end of the stash and sprinkling on vanilla ice cream round about February…

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Yeah, those left over crumbs go great on ice cream!

I’ll have to try a batch with sea salt this year–my friends and I have already pronounced the person who figured out the salted dark chocolate caramels was a genius.

Easy: Chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa powder.

Hard: Pecan tassies; tedious tart tamping these itty bitty to die for cream cheese/butter pastry shells that are filled with a pecan pie type filling. I don’t have a single recipe any more, I just google one up when I lose my senses and decide to make these two.

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I’ve made a lot of food gifts over the years, but there are a few recipes I come back to. I often make the tomato jam from Food in Jars and a bourbon peach jam. I also tend to make boozy infusions. I usually make a spiced apple brandy around the holidays. This year I actually bottled enough mead for gifts but that won’t be ready until next year. Sometimes the simplest things are really nice. I make a vanilla sugar and a tomato salt that also seem to go over well.


Tassies are one of our traditional Christmas dinner desserts. I make two dozen. Making them in a larger quantity - you are a brave person!

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I had to make several dozen to give as gifts and created high demand for repeats. Eff that! A tart tamper didn’t ease the pain at atll. They are SO good, though.

Thin sliced crispy dried tomatoes from my garden. Excellent crumbled on sandwiches, salads, in stews, etc.


I have made the Peppery Candied Pistachios from Julie Sahni’s Moghul Microwave cookbook. Trader Joe’s has shelled pistachios, so it’s just a matter of mixing them with some sugar, water, butter and spices and nuking repeatedly. They end up crunchy, a little sweet, a little spicy. Sometimes I tweak the spices since I prefer more chili and less black pepper. Next time I’ll try a batch with smoked paprika and ground Sichuan peppercorns.


I’ve made the Saltine Toffee barks several times - usually with 60%+ dark chocolate - and it’s always been a hit. All my friends and co-workers, myself included, liken it to crack. I’ve stopped making it in recent years if only because I would inevitably eat a third of it. Many recipes available online, but I prefer the no-nut version like this one: http://www.askchefdennis.com/2010/12/saltine-toffee-or-its-bark-is-as-good-as-the-bite/

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in recent years, i have, shall we say, curated my holiday baking. i used to make at least a half dozen kinds of cookies, plus raspberry-filled truffles and cocoa-spiced pecans.

now it’s chocolate shortbread (assuming you all know what to do for the 1st 2:)

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder

this dough freezes well and it’s easy to double (and even triple:) the recipe:

chocolate bark for the vegans (or pick your own combination of nuts and dried fruit)

1 pound dark chocolate, melted
1 cup skinned hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
orange zest
2 tablespoons bourbon-soaked cocoa nibs (optional)
flaky sea salt

chocolate-espresso snowballs for the gluten free people:

(adapted from bojon gourmet: http://bojongourmet.com/2014/12/spiced-cocoa-polvorones-gluten-free/)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) almond flour
1/2 cup (1.75 ounces / 50 grams) cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (.5 ounces /15 grams) tapioca flour (cornstarch works)
1 tablespoon espresso powder
6 tablespoons (2 ounces / 60 grams) dark brown sugar (white works)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (4 ounces / 115 grams) toasted, finely chopped pecans
1 stick (4 ounces / 115 grams) unsalted, cold butter, in 1/2" pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons each powdered sugar and cocoa

preheat to 350ºF. line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease lightly).

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, tapioca flour, sugar, salt and espresso powder. add the pecans, scatter the butter pieces over the top, then sprinkle over the vanilla. mix on low until the butter is incorporated and the dough forms large clumps, 1-2 minutes. (a food processor works as well) transfer dough to a covered container and chill for 30 minutes (or up to several days).

sift the powdered sugar and into a shallow bowl. form tablespoon-sized 1" balls of dough and roll them in the sugar-cocoa mix, knocking off any large clumps, and place the balls on the baking sheet an inch or two apart.

bake until puffed and cracked, 18-22 minutes. the cookies will be soft at first but should crisp up when cool. (if they’re still soft when cool, return them to the oven to bake them a bit longer.

chocolate bourbon:

1 fifth of serviceable (cheap:) bourbon
3 ounces roasted cocoa nibs
vanilla bean

combine all in a glass jar. set aside in a cool dry place for 3 weeks (not sure what would happen if you let it go longer:). strain, pour back into jar and return to cool dry place for at least 1 week, 2 is better. this is necessary because it will taste and smell harsh (when chocolate bourbon was first discussed on chowhound several weeks ago, the first person who tried it actually poured it down the drain because it tasted so bad.) turns out, it just needs some time to mellow.

store the bourbon soaked cocoa nibs in a jar in the freezer and thinks of other ways to repurpose.


Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. And bourbon to boot! Now that’s my kind of holiday baking :smile:

If I get a bottle of bourbon this weekend I can chocolatefy it just in time for Christmas. Sweet.

And a question on the shortbread: bake at 350 for 30 mins?

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