It’s that time of year when the non-procrastinators start thinking about gifts for family and friends. Some enjoy giving homemade treats as gifts in order to be more budget- friendly. Others like to give homemade gifts because they are more personal than buying a gift from the shelf. Whatever your reason for making homemade gifts, the library has some great resources for finding yummy, edible treats to give as gifts.
One book that caught my eye was “Edible DIY: Simple, Giftable Recipes to Savor and Share” by Lucy Baker. This book has some tasty sweet offerings that immediately drew my attention, such as Whiskey Butterscotch Sauce and Chocolate- Covered Pretzel Toffee. I also immediately had to find out what in the world Compost Bark might be. Turns out, it is a concoction of semisweet chocolate, puffed rice cereal, potato chips, and pretzels all mixed together. If you are tired of getting overloaded with sugar during the holidays, this book actually has only one chapter devoted to sweets. Try making something from one of the other chapters, such as “Crunchy,” “Boozy,” or “Jams, Jellies, and Other Preserves.”
If you want something for the serious sweet tooth in your family, try “Delicious Gifts: Edible Creations to Make and Give” by Jess McCloskey. It does include several sections on savory foods, but the real star of the book is the sweet treats. There are recipes for truffles, cake balls, cupcakes, tarts, marshmallows, brittles, toffee, and fudge. In addition, this book has a small section that covers packaging your edible gifts. If you have ever given homemade treats before, you understand that the packaging can be quite expensive. McCloskey offers some cheaper alternatives to purchasing bags or boxes. For instance, she gives instructions on making your own gift boxes out of cardstock or covering existing cardboard boxes. A similar resource is “Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen” by Georgeanne Brennan. Most of the book is taken up with fairly traditional Christmas cookies and candies with a smaller section on savory treats and preserved foods. Brennan also includes pictures of many different ideas for packaging your edible gifts.
If you want to truly impress your friends and family, you might want to try “Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself & Wrap with Style” by Dinah Corley. Most of these recipes are nontraditional Christmas treats. And, some of the recipes are fairly inaccessible to the average home cook. For instance, recipes for making your own pate, pistachio sugarplums, or iced fennel wrapped in prosciutto are a bit intimidating. However, other recipes are definitely doable, such as the butterscotch cake and black bean and corn salsa with homemade tortilla chips. Corley devotes almost as much space to packaging gifts as she does to the recipes. Every recipe comes with its own, detailed packaging suggestion.
For those looking for very traditional Christmas treats, check out “Cookie Craft Christmas: Dozens of Decorating Ideas for a Sweet Holiday” by Janice Fryer and Valerie Peterson. This book is for everyone who loves to make those decorated sugar cookies every year. I always want mine to look like they came from a professional and end up being disappointed! Fryer and Peterson have some simple ideas (as well as more difficult techniques) for jazzing up your decorations. They start with a couple dough and royal icing recipes, followed by some of the basic decorating techniques that you will use on most of your cookies. The vast majority of the book is filled with page after page of photographs of different decorated cookies with clear instructions on how to achieve the same look that they did.
These are just a few of the books offered on this topic. If you plan to make homemade treats for the holidays this year or other homemade gifts, be sure to check out the library’s large assortment of cookbooks and craft books for all of your holiday ideas.