For me, the holidays are always about the food as much as anything else. Presents are great, but I love looking around a candle-lit table filled with my loved ones and the food we’ve cooked together. This year, since everyone I know has too much stuff anyway, I’m going to stuff my loved ones with tasty treats!
Everyone knows how to make latkes and Christmas cookies and gingerbread men (or if you don’t, there are literally hundreds of websites and cookbooks eager to tell you how), so I’ve gathered some recipes that are a little more unusual, or twists on a classic. There’s something really special about delivering a tin (you can probably find great vintage ones at garage sales or flea markets for a song) of home-baked goods. May visions of sugarplums dance in your head …
Ingredients: dried fruits and nuts and lots of sugar
Make it:Fabulous Foods Recipe. Link
I first read about sugarplums in The Country Kitchen Cookbook, a now sadly out-of-print narrative cookbook about relearning the recipes of childhood. I realized that I’d never actually known what a sugarplum was, Night Before Christmas notwithstanding. According to The Historical Cookery Page, it’s not entirely clear whether the original sugarplums of the Elizabethan age were literally sugared plums, or just sugary confections. Whatever they were, these are fantastic, and a great gift for vegans or friends who don’t like chocolate (gasp!). I love this recipe.
Ingredients: Chocolate. Lots of it. And cream, and amazing flavorings.
Make it: Anatomy of a truffle Instructable. Link
For those that do like chocolate, these truffle recipes look incredible. I love that you learn the reasoning behind the ingredients (what makes whipping cream whipping cream, for example?) as well as the structure of how to make a truffle so that you can get creative with the flavorings. And what flavorings! I can’t wait to try whipping up rosemary with sea salt or jasmine and honey truffles. Maybe I’ll gift some to myself …
Homemade microwave popcorn
Ingredients: popcorn kernals, olive oil and seasoning
Make it: Microwave popcorn Instructable. Link.
If you’re getting tired of all the sweetness that starts with the holidays, think about the ultimate savory treat: perfectly seasoned popcorn. If you have a friend with a secret love of the microwaved version, but are afraid of them getting popcorn lung, this is a hilarious idea for a gift. Make up a bunch in advance and put them in wax paper bags instead of plain paper.
Apricot Chanukah Gelt
Ingredients: apricots, chocolate, aluminum foil
Make it: RecipeZaar chocolate-dipped apricots. Link
Way more fun than buying mass-produced Chanukah gelt for playing dreidel, these are the grown-up version of those wimpy chocolates I remember as a kid. Have fun making creative wrappings for these (gold foil? watercolored labels? embossed packaging?) or go simple and put them straight in a little fabric bag (make sure not to leave anywhere too warm!).
Ingredients: chocolate and cream, butter and sugar (nuts optional)
Make it: fudge-recipe.com. Link
For as long as I can remember, my family has dropped off freshly-baked and eccentrically decorated Christmas cookies at my parents’ neighbors’ homes. The neighbors at the end of our driveway arrive sometime on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, bearing a plate or tin of delicious, exquisite homemade fudge in return. I have to say it is one of the things I look forward to most! And knowing that, my family has given me the greatest gift of all: free pickings from the fudge plate.