Give the gift of chocolate to your chocolate lover this year!
Tis the season of giving, receiving, and best of all, enjoying everything the holidays have to offer. Whether you’re attending an office soiree, a family gathering, or hosting a neighborhood shindig, chances are you’re going to be giving out gifts this season. And what better way to let the people in your life know how much you love them than with the gift on everyone’s list: Chocolate.
Chocolate gifts come in lots of decadent forms. You can do all the hard work yourself and present someone with a basket full of chocolate peppermint bark. Or you can simply package up ingredients in an attractive jar and deliver it at the doorstep of a friend who loves to bake. And then there’s always the gift of a decadent adult beverage, which is sure to delight at your next holiday party.
Now is your chance to let your creativity shine through. And even if you’re not the most creative person on the planet (for the record, I fall into this category), you can still make a gift that will look too delicious to eat. Almost.
First, you’ll need a few basic, non-food supplies to get started on most of these gift ideas.
- Glass jars (mason jars, spaghetti sauce, even baby food jars will work great).
- Cellophane or plastic wrap.
- Baskets (various sizes).
- Ribbons in various holiday colors and styles.
- Glue (hot glue guns work best).
- Mini pine cones and sprigs of greenery.
- Candy cans (regular sized or mini work fine).
Let’s start with a classic chocolate gift: Chocolate cookie mix in a jar. Perfect for a busy parent, teacher, or neighbor, this gift is ideal for those who love to bake and eat cookies (aka everyone on the planet) but may not have a lot of extra time that comes with purchasing ingredients and doing the painstaking measuring that comes with a yummy batch of treats.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a 1-quart wide mouth canning jar, layer dark brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips. Pack everything down firmly before you add flour mixture (it will be a snug fit).
- Decorate the jar by gluing a festive ribbon or some pine cones and greenery.
- Attach a tag with the following instructions: Chocolate Cookie Mix in a Jar.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
- Empty cookie mix into large bowl. Thoroughly blend mixture with hands. Mix in 3/4 cup softened butter or margarine, 1 egg, slightly beaten, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Shape into walnut-size balls, and place 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then move to wire racks.
- This next one is for that friend who is a vegetarian, or gluten-free. Oh yeah, and who also LOVES fudge. What’s great about this recipe is that it’s super-duper easy to make, but tastes like you’ve been slaving over a double-boiler for hours.
- 8 cups (32-ounce bag) powdered sugar
- 1 cup high-quality cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 2 tbsp Vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- Line a baking sheet or casserole dish with foil.
- In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder and stir until they seem reasonably well mixed.
- Pour milk over sugar mixture but do not mix. Place cubes of butter on top. Microwave on high power 3-4 minutes until the butter has almost completely melted.
- Immediately remove mixture from microwave and stir well until very well combined. You need to work fast because you want to spread the mixture while it’s still hot, but you want every spec of sugar to be well incorporated.
- Once chocolate mixture is thoroughly mixed, stir in walnuts and vanilla.
- Immediately pour warm fudge into prepared dish and spread to desired thickness.
- Allow to set at room temperature fully.
- Lift foil out of dish and transfer fudge to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut squares.
- Transfer fudge onto cellophane and wrap with a decorative bow. Then you can place in a basket (you may want to fill a basket with paper grass or something to prop up fudge for better presentation).
Now we have my personal favorite–adult beverages. Because nothing is better when the weather outside is frightful than-than a little nip of something that makes us warm and fuzzy on the inside. These recipes are great because you can wrap them up as gifts, serve them at parties, or enjoy them as a nightcap while watching the snow fall from the comfort of your living room.
If you are passing out these recipes as a gift, you can purchase mini bottles of Kahlua and Vodka and place them inside cute glass mugs with ribbon, candy canes, the called-for spices or mix, and a tag that lists ingredients and directions. If you’re going to make them at a party or savor them all to yourself, just follow the directions below and voila; warm, velvety drinks that embody the holiday spirit–comfort and joy.
- 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1 candy cane
- 3 tbsp. sipping chocolate
- 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 oz. Kahlua
- whipped cream
- candy canes
- In a saucepan over low heat, warm whole milk, and heavy cream.
- Add 1 candy cane and stir until melted.
- Stir in sipping chocolate and vanilla extract.
- Remove from heat, stir in Kahlua, and pour into glass.
- Garnish with whipped cream and candy canes.
- 1 oz. Marshmallow Vodka
- 5 oz. hot cocoa mix
- 0.75 oz. heavy cream
- 0.25 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- Combine all ingredients and serve warm in a glass mug.
- Lightly dust with cayenne pepper and cinnamon.
And so friends, amid all the hustle and bustle that always accompanies this time of year, make sure you take the time to remember life’s important things. Family, loved ones, the moments you get to spend together, and the memories you will make this season. Especially over a plate of goodies and a warm, smooth mug of Hot Chocolate with a splash of vodka. Get creative and try some of the many flavored vodkas, rums and other liqueurs that are available in mini size. Cheers to you and yours!