Carrie’s Kitchen: Making sweet food gifts for Christmas always a great idea

It’s the countdown to Christmas and I’m sharing recipes to help you spread the love! Everyone eats, and if you like to cook and be creative, making a food gift is a great idea for the people you want to show your love and appreciation during the Christmas season.

Last week I shared cookie recipes, and this week I’m keeping the sweets going, in different forms. For example, with candies. Do you know someone who likes fudge? Who doesn’t! This is a super simple recipe of fudge made from semi-sweet chocolate chips with peanut butter added to it, which you melt together and pipe into some foil-lined cookie cutters to create cute fudge-filled ornaments. You put some crunchy toppings on the fudge while it’s still soft, then wrap it in a clear bag and tie it with a colorful ribbon. This would make a great Christmas card/thank you for a service person in your life.


Next, I chose this recipe for a nut brittle. This is one of those old-fashioned candies that you pretty much only see at Christmas time, and if you know someone who likes toffee and nuts, it would make a great gift. It does require carefully heating up buttery sugar water and watching the temperature carefully so that it doesn’t burn, but as long as you don’t get distracted, it’s pretty easy. You can use any type of nut here; I think I would like to try it with cashews.

And third, for something that is sweet but not candy sweet, I liked the idea of this winter orange pomegranate iced tea. I know you don’t usually think of iced tea in the winter, but if the intended recipient has a fireplace or wood stove in the house, he or she probably could use a cold drink, just like this parched writer. The iced tea is made with either black tea or orange-flavored tea, such as an herbal tea, and orange slices, cloves and cinnamon stick. The resulting tea is then mixed with orange juice and pomegranate juice (just buy it, don’t try squeezing those little arils yourself) and a little sugar, then you let it chill and pour it into a fancy bottle or pitcher to give to your recipient. A little plate of cookies on the side wouldn’t hurt either, but most important, a nice handwritten note telling them why they are special enough to be on your goodies list.



Cookie cutter fudge

Non-stick cooking spray

5 cookie cutters (about 3” each)

Aluminum foil

1 cup (about 6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup extra crunchy peanut butter

Chopped salted peanuts, crushed pretzels or toffee pieces for topping.

Disposable piping bag or zip-top bag

6x9” cellophane bag

Colorful ribbon

Lightly spray a 6- to 8-inch piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and lay a cookie cutter in the center. Fold and scrunch the foil tightly around the edges of the cookie cutter. Smooth the foil flat on the inside of the cutter using a finger. Lay the prepared cutters on a baking tray.

Combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a bowl and heat in the microwave at 30-second intervals until the mixture can be stirred smooth, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Let the mixture cool slightly.


Transfer the candy to a disposable piping bag (or zip-top bag) with the tip snipped. Pipe candy into the cookie cutters and shake the pan gently to level the candy. Sprinkle candy with crushed peppermint or other desired toppings. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove foil from the backs of the cookie cutters. If any candy has seeped to the outside, gently wipe it away with a paper towel.

Place the cutters in a 6- by 9-inch cellophane bag and tie with festive ribbon. Add fun gift tags if desired. If making these ahead, store them packaged in the refrigerator for longevity.

Source: hgtv.com

Best-ever nut brittle

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

12 ounces roasted salted peanuts, cashews, pistachios and/or pecans

Fleur de sel or crushed Maldon sea salt

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble.

Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet.

Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), and spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.

The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Winter orange pomegranate iced tea

For the tea:

3 cups water

1 navel orange, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

3 inches stick cinnamon, broken

6 whole cloves

4 orange-flavored or black tea bags (decaffeinated, if you like)

1 cup orange juice

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 – 3 tablespoons sugar

To serve:

12 orange wedges or chunks

6 lime wedges or chunks

6 6-inch wooden skewers

Ice cubes

In a medium saucepan, combine water, orange slices, cinnamon and cloves. Bring just to boiling; remove from heat. Add tea bags. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags; discard. Strain tea mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard orange slices and spices.

In a glass pitcher, combine strained tea mixture, orange juice, pomegranate juice and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

To serve, place 2 orange wedges and 1 lime wedge onto each skewer. Serve tea in glasses filled with ice cubes. Add fruit skewers to each glass.

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