’Tis the season to gift within reason. Gifts can get pricey, but you want to gift nicely. When you don't know what to get, there's no need to fret. These recipes create a delicious taste that can be whipped up with haste. For your friend who has it all, and there's nothing good to buy at the mall. For the teacher you need to please, these desserts are made in a breeze. So go on, keep on reading and prepare for some yummy eating. Then give yourself a hand, for you are the best gift-giver in the land!
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter cup into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup baking chocolate (semisweet, dark or milk)
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candy or candy canes
1 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a metal baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the sides of the pan.
2 In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and butter, stirring often. Let it cool slightly.
3 Separately combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, peppermint extract, baking powder and salt. Add flour until everything is just mixed together, then add the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Don't over-mix unless you want dry brownies!
4 Fill the pan with the batter and even it out. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let brownies cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.
5 Melt the white chocolate chips and baking chocolate. To do this in the microwave, heat the chocolate in about two 20-second intervals, mixing between rounds. If it still isn't melted, microwave in 10-second bursts until you have smooth, drizzle-able chocolate.
6 Now comes the fun part. Drizzle the chocolate on the brownies in any artistic pattern you desire. Before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle on the crushed peppermints. Let the brownies cool before cutting them. Then share and enjoy!
(For a simpler approach, just add vanilla and peppermint extract to brownie batter from a box mix. Follow the directions and let them cool. Then follow instructions 5 and 6 to get brownies with the same amount of holiday pep!)
Source: Adapted from brownie recipe at CHOW.com
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon clove
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons ginger
1 Cream softened butter and brown and white sugar. Beat in the egg.
2 Separately blend the all of the dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients with the butter mixture until evenly mixed. Form a ball of dough.
3 Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap or put it in a zip-top bag to chill in the fridge. The dough should be nice and cold before you roll it out.
4 After the dough has firmed (about 1 hour), roll it out on a flour-dusted surface. Then it's time to get creative! Use cookie cutters or cut out your own shapes.
5 To ensure the cookies maintain their shape as much as possible without spreading, chill the dough cutouts for about 15 minutes. Plop your cookies onto a greased baking sheet and pop them into an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Let them bake for 6 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown.
6 Let them cool while you prepare your royal frosting.
Royal Icing Fit for a King
2 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg white
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 Combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring the icing for about 2 minutes, until it is smooth and slightly thick. If it's too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
2 To decorate your cookies, separate the royal icing into different bowls for different colors. Tint the icing with food coloring if desired. To outline the cookies, get a small plastic bag, fill it halfway with icing, then cut off a small piece at one corner of the bag to form a decorating tip.
3 Once the outline of the cookie has dried, you can do a technique for the pros called flooding. Just add a little water to slightly thin out the icing. Then use a spoon to spread the thinner icing around the middle. Use a toothpick to get in the cracks and crevices of the cookie.
4 After your cookie is frosted, add any details you'd like. Bring your gingerbread man to life or create a lovely edible cookie ornament. The options are endless. Let the icing on your artistic masterpieces dry completely. You are then free to do with them as you please (and if that means eat them all, we're not judging).
1 cup eggnog
¼ melted butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter (cut into 8 pieces), softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup eggnog
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat together the eggnog, melted butter, vinegar, vanilla and sugar. Separately mix together dry ingredients. On low speed combine the wet and dry ingredients.
2 Fill the cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
3 For the frosting, beat the softened butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, then beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix for another 2 minutes.
4 Using a plastic storage bag with a cut corner, or simply a butter knife, spread the frosting on top of the cupcake. For an extra-fancy look, sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon on each cupcake.
Gift the goodness
Search dollar stores for affordable packaging you can fill with holiday glee. For cupcakes, a creative twist is stacking two (with paper cups removed) into a mason jar; decorate the outside with stickers or ribbons, put the lid on and include a pretty plastic spoon to eat the treat out of the jar. Little boxes with bows are also gifting stars; everyone you give them to will be impressed. Line them with parchment paper so the receiver can use the containers later.
NEXT WEEK: Learn how to make delightful dish garden gifts.