Each year during the holiday season, I prefer to give comestibles. These edible gifts have the bonus of not only not arriving with a price tag, but it’s a reflection of time and effort instead of just checking someone off of a gift list.
Hot chocolate and s’mores are some of my favorite things to consume. Nothing like sitting by a fire (or a video of a fireplace) and sipping cocoa or chomping on a burnt marshmallow. This recipe is incredibly easy and customize-able. I like to use higher-quality, locally made marshmallows, but you can also drink with mini-marshmallows. I filled each jar with 5 servings (180g) and the larger with 8 servings. Some have peppermint marshmallows from Bread Furst and some have vanilla marshmallows from Fleurir.
Here are some different packaging styles I’m gifting:
You know something’s a success when people ask for the recipe after eating it.
I was a little doubtful while scooping these cookies out onto the baking sheet. The batter didn’t look like any cookie dough I had ever seen because it was pretty loose and some even lost their shape when they hit the pan.
I was still worried after they were done baking and I chomped on one while still warm from the oven. It just tasted o~kay.
But, I let them sit overnight and by the next day they had somehow changed. The flavors had mingled together and become stronger. The texture on the outside had become crunchier and the inside more fudgy, like a brownie. In fact, these taste like a delicious brownie-cookie hybrid, and they even double as a caffeine pick-me-up because of the chocolate covered espresso beans.
Everyone that tried these cookies became an immediate convert, even those that don’t like coffee (read: my mom).
Even though a little more work goes into these to melt the chocolate, there are only 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire recipe. Can you believe it? I think I’m going to try coating these with sugar next and see if they can replace my traditional Milk Chocolate Espresso Cookies at Christmas time. If you’re one of those that doesn’t like crunchy things like nuts or candy in your cookies (like my fiance), then you can replace the chocolate covered espresso beans with a strong espresso powder.
My best friend Stephanie moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago. Even though I don’t see her as often as I used to, we make it a tradition to get together and make truffles every year (See: 2010, 2011). This was our third year, and we spent the weeks before deciding on flavors, shopping, and picking up packaging materials.
No matter how much you plan in advance though, there are always some snags. We had a few last minute shopping trips, a recipe mis-calculation, and a slight shortage of boxes, but everything turned out great. I chose to make a Dark Chocolate Crunchy Biscoff truffle and Stephanie chose a Deep Milk Chocolate Earl Grey and Lavender truffle. Both were delicious (I’m not biased at all).
This year we even remembered to print off some labels to put on the inside of the boxes so that recipients would know what they were eating. Extra truffles that didn’t fit in boxes were placed in bags. We also made just enough peppermint bark – some made in a cute rilakkuma chocolate mold, and some made in a brownie bite pan.
The base recipe for these truffles are from a truffle making class that Stephanie and I attended at ACKC in Washington, DC on 5/25/10. These truffle recipes have served us well for the past three years, and we’ll continue to use them in the future.
Every year I hand make gifts for the holidays. Whether it’s homemade vanilla extract, cookies, truffles, ornaments, or even bread, I think that the extra effort and thought that goes into making something yourself is priceless.
This year, while looking through the Bon Appétit Holiday Issue for possible Christmas cookie inspiration, my boyfriend said “you should make this.” I looked at the recipe and agreed – I would absolutely have to make this delicious looking homemade nutella.
The recipe was very straight forward (though if skinned hazelnuts existed in my area, I’d be much happier) and I made cute little recipe cards to go along with the gift. I only send recipe cards with edibles when I know they taste delicious and the recipient most definitely will be recreating on their own. Which they will, because this spread is delicious. It might taste better because I skinned those hazelnuts with my own two hands, and worked my biceps while attempting to whisk the thickening ganache. But I think it tastes better than the stuff in the store because I know exactly what’s in it. Cream, butter, nuts, good quality chocolate, sugar, and a dash of salt. Not to mention that my packaging is super cute.
Here are some pictures that went out with my family’s holiday card this year. Every year it takes us a while to figure our how to use the timer on my mom’s fancy camera. Every year we have to take a bajillion re-takes while trying to pretend it’s Christmas even though it’s Thanksgiving. But it’s tradition, and it’s worth it. Just like these precious bundles of perfection.
It’s also my sister’s birthday today – Happy Birthday Ariel!
The first snow of the year! (Dec 5th)
I went to a Cupcake Exchange/Bake-Off as part of a Yelp event. I really like Chai, but I don’t like buttercream frosting, so I was interested as to how these would turn out. The recipe, from The Cupcake Blog, had a recipe to make your own chai spice, but I chose to buy Chai teabags and cut them open.
These cupcakes turned out surprisingly delicious! The chocolate wasn’t too deep and the cake was firm (with a crust on top) yet soft on the inside. I didn’t really get the chai flavor, but it might be because of the chai that I used and the fact that this was a chocolate cake.
This was also my first attempt at piping frosting (which I think turned out alright). I tried to make chocolate mint leaves, but I didn’t put enough chocolate on the leaves so when I peeled the chocolate off, the leaves broke. I was able to salvage about three leaves from the fifty I attempted to make and put silver dragees on the rest.
I didn’t win first place, but I did win third (which I later learned was actually 4th place after some math was recalculated). The first place winner was a blow-torched graham cracker crust S’mores cupcake and second place was an Irish Car Bomb cupcake, which I couldn’t really compete with. If I had a molten lava center to this cake, I’m sure I would have won!