In her festive new baking book, Sarah Kieffer (the Minneapolis blogger of pan-banging cookies fame) dedicated a chapter to food gifts. We selected five of her most enticing recipes, then dreamed up gorgeous packaging ideas for each. Mic drop—holiday style.
Isn't a perfectly soft chocolate cake, all to yourself, the ultimate fantasy? Sarah Kieffer's 6-inch cuties are dark, fluffy and moist, with a thick swoop of silky frosting. Her straightforward recipe makes three, ideal for ticking off your short list of extra-special recipients. Tug the bow loose, and this handmade cardstock and poster board box pops open to reveal a cake perched in a 360-degree throne of gold.
Melt a trio of chocolates (Kieffer's technique forgoes fussy tempering), then sit back and enjoy lots of hands-off time between each layer as the bark sets up in the refrigerator. Rather than snap the bark into bitty shards, cut the slab into proper candy bars with a knife. Wrap each in gold foil, enclose in a cardstock sleeve and secure with a sticker. You'll feel like a regular Milton S. Hershey.
Creamy morsels of sugary, buttery, sea-salted heaven—need we say more? You'll have to use a candy thermometer, but the recipe works beautifully, yielding a soft confection that doesn't stick in the teeth and stretches delectably with each bite. Kieffer offers both orange and espresso variations. To make these crep paper treat bags, fold metallic crepe paper into little sacks, then loop a ribbon through the top and add a stamped tag.
Kieffer says she set out to create the fruitcake of her dreams. Mission accomplished: super-moist, almond-orange cakes studded with home-candied cherries and citrus peel, covered in a shell of melted chocolate, and garnished with edible gold leaf. The petite cakes eat like elegant patisserie and are worth every minute of the process. Foil muffin cups cradle a pair of cakes inside a paper box, wrapped 'round with a vellum sleeve and a wide band of ribbon. (We'll even teach you how to add those shiny polka dots.)
France's answer to shortbread, these ultrarich slice-and-bake cookies (pronounced SAHB-lays) look a bit ordinary, but trust us: They stop the show at first taste. Kieffer's flavor options include citrus-poppyseed, rosemary-chocolate chip and pistachio. Test your papercraft skills with a fetching oval box, lined and trimmed in gold. Crisscross a ribbon and seal with a kiss—ahem, wax medallion.