Monday, December 26, 2011

Homemade Christmas Gifts

So Christmas is over. Wah wah.

It's depressing, right? I mean, at least for me, the excitement has been building since I ordered my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year back in September.

That either makes sense to you or it doesn't.

Also, can we just agree to ignore how troubling it is that I use Starbucks seasonal drink launches as points of reference in my life?

If I were a normal food blogger, I would probably be giving you ideas for New Year's Eve right now. But remember how I said in my last post that I had SOmany/seventobeexact recipes to share with you? Most of them are recipes for the homemade Christmas gifts I made this year.

And obbbviously I couldn't reveal those before Christmas, so I'm sharing them with you now!

For my coworkers, I made homemade hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows. This was my first experience using a candy thermometer (other than that one time I made doughnuts... and that other time too), and it was actually a lot less scary than I thought it would be. Anyone can do this!

For my sister, I made chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. They are decidedly one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Too bad they don't pair well with new year's resolutions.

For my mom, I made chocolate almond toffee. Also using a candy thermometer and also not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Butter and sugar do all the work.

For my dad, I made chocolate-covered buttercream cherries. They take at least a week to make, but they are so, so, SO much better than the ones you buy at the grocery store.

My dad specifically asked that no one give him chocolate-covered cherries for Christmas this year since he usually receives several boxes and can't eat them all. Being the dutiful child I am, I completely ignored his request and made them for him anyway. He was not disappointed.

I know I completely failed you by waiting to post these until after Christmas, but just think what perfect Valentine's Day gifts they would make! Homemade candy vs. Whitman's Sampler? No contest. Sorry, Whitman's. It's just the truth.

Then again, you could always tuck these recipes away for next Christmas. 361 days? The countdown starts now.

Hot Cocoa Mix
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 & 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup cocoa powder


1. Combine the sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined.

2. Add both types of chocolate chips to the bowl and pulse until the chocolate is finely ground and combined with the vanilla sugar.

3. Add the cocoa powder to the bowl and pulse until thoroughly mixed with the other ingredients. Check to make sure that no large chunks of chocolate remain.

To use the mix: Add 1/4 cup cocoa mix to 8 ounces hot milk. Stir until the cocoa mix dissolves completely.

Makes about 6 cups of cocoa mix.

Vanilla Marshmallows
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

3/4 ounce unflavored gelatin
1 cup cool water, divided
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
powdered sugar, for dusting


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup water. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray or grease with shortening.

2. In a deep saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and cook (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.

3. With the mixer running on low speed, pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Toward the end of the mixing, add the vanilla.

4. Transfer the marshmallow to the prepared pan and use wet hands to spread it to the edges and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the surface with powdered sugar and allow the marshmallows to set for at least three hours before cutting. Use a greased knife to cut the marshmallows into squares or use a cookie cutter for shaped marshmallows.

Makes about 100 one-inch marshmallows.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (for flavor)
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cups chocolate chips
chocolate almond bark, for dipping


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for about one minute at medium speed. Add the sugars and beat about two minutes more. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Form the cookie dough into one-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze for at least three hours before dipping.

4. When you're ready to dip, melt the chocolate almond bark according to the package directions. Remove the cookie dough balls from the freezer and dip each one in the melted chocolate, coating completely. Return the balls to the wax paper to set. To decorate, drizzle any remaining melted chocolate over the balls in a zigzag pattern. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 30 one-inch truffles.

Chocolate Almond Toffee
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup salted butter
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


1. Spread half of the almonds in a closely-packed single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the almonds.

2. Melt the butter in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow it to boil gently until it reaches 300°F on a candy thermometer. Be sure to watch the temperature closely because the mixture will burn quickly if left on the heat too long.

3. Pour the hot syrup evenly over the almonds and chocolate. Immediately sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips evenly over the syrup, followed by the remaining almonds. Wait one or two minutes, then use a spatula to gently press the chocolate and almonds into the syrup and spread the chocolate evenly over the surface.

4. Cool completely before cutting into squares or breaking into uneven pieces.

Makes about 24 pieces.

Chocolate-Covered Buttercream Cherries
Adapted from Bakergirl

30 maraschino cherries with stems (about one 10-ounce jar)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 & 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening


1. Drain the cherries and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a small bowl and mix with a hand mixer for about one minute. The mixture will look like dry powdered sugar. Using clean hands, knead the mixture until it forms a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Divide the dough into 1/2-inch balls. Flatten each ball into a 2-inch circle with the palm of your hand. Wrap one circle around each cherry so that they are covered completely. Place the cherries on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

3. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a small bowl and microwave for 30-second intervals until completely melted. Stir until smooth. Hold each cherry by the stem and dip into the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off. Return the cherries to the wax paper and refrigerate until hardened. Transfer the cherries to a covered container and refrigerate for one to two weeks before serving.

Makes about 30 chocolate-covered cherries.

Pin It


  1. Wow, thank you so much! Soon i will be making these wonderful looking treats! I find the cookie dough covered in chocolate to be brilliant! You have no idea how much money & time you saved me!Thank you and have wonderful christmas!

  2. These delicious cookies will bring smile to anyone's day. I really want to buy your healthy holiday cookies soon by this Christmas.