Dulce de leche is lusciously thick Latin American caramel that's traditionally made by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk. Our slow-cooker method allows you to monitor the caramel's color, plus the end result is an instant gift.
This easy-to-assemble holiday gift tastes so good that you'll want to keep some extra for yourself. Layer dry ingredients in a glass or clear plastic container, tie on a holiday ribbon, and give along with a pretty kitchen towel.
When you want to give more than a card, but less than a gift, slip a cookie or two in a plastic treat bag (available at crafts stores) with a solid-color piece of scrapbooking paper. Fold contrasting paper over the opening, punch two holes, then tie with ribbon.
A coating of spicy and sweet turns toasted pecans into a holiday food that makes a great food gift or party snack. Make these ahead of time to give out at the holidays—just store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.
Make a Scandinavian brownie with a Scandinavian straw ornament for an easy food gift or cookie exchange treat!
Purchase inexpensive straw ornaments from sources such as Minneapolis-based Ingebretsen's. Bake brownies in an 8-inch pan and cut into 9 squares. Wrap each square like a present in cellophane wrapping paper (we bought ours at Walmart). Attach strips of red ribbon using glue dots, then add ornaments using glue dots.
Cranberries give this syrup its rich color and characteristic tang. Use the sugar mixture as a base for drinks or as a topper for ice cream, cake or pancakes. Give in decorative bottles for food gifts, along with the recipe.
At Abilene's Victorian Inn in Kansas, chef Adrian Potter bakes this granola for guests. Eat it with milk or layered in a parfait with yogurt and fruit. This makes a great food gift at the holidays; it can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or placed in freezer bags and frozen for up to 2 months.
Fudge in any flavor makes a classic holiday gift, but our white fudge dotted with dried cherries and toasted almonds looks especially festive. The recipe comes from the Inn at Cedar Falls near Logan, Ohio. Also in our red foil box: Best-Ever Peanut Brittle, another holiday favorite.
Packaging tip: Any plain gift box with a lid will feel decadently special when you wrap the lid and bottom separately, like this pair covered in shiny red paper.
Little Traveler in Geneva, Illinois (40 miles west of Chicago) uses creamy, tangy lemon curd to make these bars for its "girlfriend tea" events. Box them in striped paper and a simple wooden box (available at crafts stores) and add a festive red ribbon for a girlfriend-worthy holiday gift.
The sweetness of dried fruit and chocolate meets salty pretzels and popcorn in our easy food gift. Pour the snack mix in a jar, and cover the lid with a circle of colorful scrapbooking paper. Grosgrain ribbon around the edge of the lid pairs with yarn and a tag to make the package complete.
Give party nuts a holiday twist by roasting them with one of four flavors: Cocoa-Sugared Mix, Curry-Spiced Mix, Barbecue-Seasoned Mix and Asian Five-Spiced Mix. Find frosted-plastic boxes at crafts or scrapbooking stores to make the nuts easy to give away in single servings.
This gift in a jar has stripes of flour, whole bran cereal, apple pie spice, almonds, brown sugar and cranberries. Seal the streusel topping in a small sturdy plastic bag and enclose at the top of the jar. The jars/gifts keep at room temperature for up to a month.
Gifts of homemade holiday treats, including fresh-baked breads or iced cookies, look striking in pretty packaging. Fold colorful cardstock to create easy containers. Accent with ribbons and tie on a meaningful message.
To make mini-loaf bread packaging as shown, click on the link below for a free template and instructions. For recipe ideas, click here for quickbreads and here for Christmas cookies.
White-Chocolate Candy combines red and green marshmallows, cereal and nuts for a quick-fix holiday treat. Prancer's Penuche will take longer, but family or friends can help you stir this luscious brown-sugar candy. Wrap a few in colored cellophane as gifts for neighbors or co-workers.
An assortment of baked goodies fills holiday-printed boxes trimmed with ribbon. Add treats of different sizes and colors such as our Lemony Spritz Cookies, Chocolatey Shortbread Bites and Sugared Almonds. Then gather the boxes on a festive cake stand, ready to give away as party favors.
A box of homemade candies makes an elegant gift from the kitchen. (Tiny boxes of candies make good stocking stuffers, too!) The recipes for chewy, chocolate-coated Coconut-Caramel Treats and decadent Almond Truffle Temptations come from the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory in Lebanon, Ohio.
Twist three different-colored ropes of dough to form these cane-shape cookies. Flavor with a touch of peppermint or cinnamon. The tricolor treats are perfect for a cookie exchange or a gift from the kitchen.