How to make some edible Christmas gifts

Why not create some edible gifts this year for family and friends? KATE RYAN shares some ideas and recipes
How to make some edible Christmas gifts

Kate Ryan has come up with some lovely Edible Gift ideas - including these Hot Chocolate Pots. Picture: Kate Ryan

DOES the thought of heading into the rush of Christmas shoppers make you nervous? Are you finding it more difficult every year to find the perfect gifts for friends and family? Maybe you’re considering the environmental cost of buying yet more stuff? If so, consider creating hampers of delicious edible gifts this year.

Making edible sweet and savoury treats yourself allows you to make more sustainable decisions with how to present your divine nibbles. I like to go with lots of smaller treats to create a cornucopia of colours, flavours, and aromas. They’re also easy to personalise or customise for an adult or a child.

I adore making edible gifts, seeking out beautiful bits of ribbon, colourful paper, and dinky little jars to decorate with but that can be reused and repurposed.

This is key to the future of gift-giving: every gift can be beautiful, but making it edible, functional, or useful ensures no gift is wasted or wasteful.

Edible gifts don’t have to be complicated to make, but do spend a bit of time making them look pretty and festive!

Give some of my ideas for easy to make edible gifts a try for yourself.

Cranberry and Spiced Clementine Sauce. Picture: Stock
Cranberry and Spiced Clementine Sauce. Picture: Stock

Cranberry and Spiced Clementine Sauce

Nothing could be easier than making cranberry sauce, but the addition of clementine and cinnamon give this an extra festive flavour boost!

Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 mini jars)

2 x 340g bag of fresh or frozen cranberries

400g granulated sugar

4 clementine zest, and juice

2 sticks of cinnamon

100ml water

Method:

  • Clean and sterilise the jars. Set aside.
  • Into a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, add all the ingredients. Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop – about 10 minutes.
  • It will look runny, but it will thicken and set a little as it cools.
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks and decant into sterilised jars and seal tight.
  • Allow to cool completely. Once opened, keep in the fridge.

Chocolate Mendiants. Picture: Kate Ryan
Chocolate Mendiants. Picture: Kate Ryan

Chocolate Mendiants

Mendiants are little disks of melted chocolate topped with fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Make batches of milk, white, and dark chocolate, and add Christmassy toppings.

Crystalised ginger is perfect with dark chocolate; dried cranberries and blueberries on white chocolate or chopped Brazil nuts or pistachios on milk chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Spiced Shortbread

Classic shortbread is so good and so simple too. Combine a few seasonal spices such as ground ginger, cinnamon and clove to mix into the shortbread dough before baking, dunk in chocolate and decorate.

Ingredients

125g plain flour

50g cornflour

125g soft butter

50g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground clove

Melted dark chocolate for dipping

Method:

  • Line a 20cm square cake tin with parchment and preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. To flour and cornflour, add the ground spices. Add to the butter, sugar and vanilla and mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
  • Use your fingers to bring the dough together into a small ball, place into the cake tin and gradually press the dough into an even layer.
  • Using a knife, score the dough in half and then into eighths. Prick the dough with a fork all over, place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for five minutes. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, in a ban-marie, melt the chocolate. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Recut the shortbread and break into fingers.
  • Take each finger of shortbread and quickly dunk halfway into the melted chocolate. Place back on the wire rack to allow the chocolate to set.
  • When all cooled and set, decorate with fondant icing pens.

Mulled Wine or Cider Kits

You can buy little linen reusable tea bags from culinary stores or online, and these are brilliant for infusing everything from drinks to jams with the intense flavour of spices. Use them to create little bags of mulling spices for wine or cider.

It’s best to use whole spices – they are best for flavour, but also because ground spices will leech out of the linen bags. Use whole spices like sticks of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, star anise, allspice berries, a small piece of vanilla pod. Add strips of dried orange and lemon zest, dried ginger, and maybe some dried herbs too – bay for mulled wine, rosemary for mulled cider. Tie them up into the little bag and finish with a sprig of holly.

Festive Rum and Raisin Fudge

This two-tone fudge is purely for the adults! Before making the fudge, soak the raisins in dark rum for at least 24 hours. Remove the raisins from the rum and mix into the fudge.

Top Tip: reserve the rum, add a spritz of clementine juice and decant it into small bottle and place that into the hamper too along with a mini can of cola for the ultimate Ho Ho Ho Rum & Coke!

Ingredients

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk

250g milk chocolate

250g white chocolate

Rum-soaked raisins

Edible decorations

Method:

  • Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
  • In a saucepan, place the white chocolate and half the condensed milk. Stir until melted and combined, add half of the rum-soaked raisins. Place into the lined cake tin and press into an even layer using a spoon.
  • Repeat with the milk chocolate and raisins, pour on top of the white layer, and press into a thin layer again, and trim with edible decorations.
  • Chill in the fridge for an hour until set, then cut into squares.

Mini Figgy Puddings

If you make your own Christmas Pudding, make a double batch of mix, and use half of it to make a few mini puddings to dress up and give as gifts. My favourite Christmas Pudding recipe is by Nigella Lawson, and is rich with dark chocolate, figs, blueberries, cranberries, and ground almonds. A version of this is available from Nigella.com.

Infused Spirits. Picture: Kate Ryan
Infused Spirits. Picture: Kate Ryan

Infused Spirits

If you spent the autumn collecting sloe or hawthorn berries, or even blackberries, and infusing them with gin, vodka, rum, or whiskey, share your creations by decanting some into miniature bottles. Decorate them with ‘Drink Me’ labels and include a serving suggestion, or a cocktail recipe.

Fresh Bread

Have you discovered a hidden talent for breadmaking these past couple of years? Make good use of those skills by baking bread for your friends. Large loaves or mini loaves, your staple recipe or jazzed up with a few seeds, nuts, or flavourings, then wrapped in parchment paper and tied with brown string. Perfection! Try this simple No Knead bread recipe below for a fuss free loaf. If you’re making this into smaller loaves, bake for less time.

Ingredients

350g strong bread flour

1 ½ cups tepid water

7g packet of dried yeast or 1 ½ tsp of fresh yeast

7g of salt

Method:

  • Mix water, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl, then add flour. Mix with a spoon until combined.
  • Loosely cover and leave for a minimum of two hours somewhere warm.
  • Tip out the dough onto a floured surface and fold the four ‘edges’ into the middle.
  • Clean the mixing bowl, dry thoroughly and dust with some more flour. Put the bread mixture back in the bowl, cover and leave for a minimum 30 minutes or up to two hours for the second prove – the longer the better.
  • Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius, fan, and place a deep casserole dish with a lid into the oven to heat.
  • Tip the bread mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. The mixture will feel wetter and stickier than you might expect, but this is good because a dough with higher moisture will give more rise and bubbles in the finished loaf.
  • Just bring the dough together enough that you can pick it up and place it into the searing hot casserole dish, cover with the lid and cook for 15 minutes and a further 20 minutes with the lid off to allow the bread to finish rising, crisp and colour.
  • Tip the bread out of the dish and tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it’s done. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

Hot Chocolate Pots. Picture: Kate Ryan
Hot Chocolate Pots. Picture: Kate Ryan

Hot Chocolate Kits

Who doesn’t love a hot chocolate? Create different flavoured hot chocolate jars by mixing 125g cocoa powder with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and then mix through these different flavours:

Spiced Hot Chocolate: Add ½ tsp each of ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and chilli. A tiny pinch of ground cloves.

Mocha Hot Chocolate: Add three tablespoons of good quality instant ground coffee.

Place a disk of parchment paper over the top of the chocolate mix and sprinkle in a layer of mini marshmallows. Seal up, decorate with ribbons and pieces of cinnamon. Attach a label with the instruction to add the hot chocolate mix to milk and heat to combine.

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