Tag Archives: food gifts

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideI know what you’re thinking. “Hasn’t Caramel Sauce already been on here?” Well yes, a few times, but it’s never had its own post and don’t you think it deserves that tiny amount of recognition? I do. Also, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideSo, why am I posting Caramel Sauce now, at the holidays, instead of mid-summer like every other ice cream topping and dessert sauce in my archives? Because it is perfect for food gifting. Perfect! It’s easy, you can make it days or weeks ahead (watch the dates on your dairy), and who wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to receive a little jar of homemade Caramel Sauce from someone they love? A monster, obviously.

(Why am I phrasing everything as a question today?)Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideTruth is, I’ve been meaning to write a little homemade food gift guide for years, but am just now getting around to it. I am a big proponent of homemade gifts, having done everything from making clay ornaments to puffy painting to sewing stuffed animals. I can tell you from experience that food is definitely the quickest, easiest and cheapest in terms of DIY gifting, and as sugar, butter and flour have been my artistic media of choice for the last 7.5 years, I have learned a lot about what makes for quality food gifts.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Want to give something saucy? People love an ice cream topping, even in the dead of winter. I’m obviously out here shilling for Caramel today, but you can do Peanut Butter Caramel, Butterscotch or even homemade Hot Fudge without much hassle. You could also go super easy and just microwave a bunch of Chocolate Shell! Just make a batch of any of the aforementioned sauces and divide it among heatproof jars. The jars pictured today are 4-ounce mason jars that I keep on hand, but 8-ounce jars would be great too.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Looking to give cookies? You’re in luck! There are so many holiday cookie recipes that are beyond perfect for gifting. Not only do they look beautiful all boxed (tinned?) up, but they keep incredibly well, especially crisper offerings. Think Iced Sugar Cookies, Candy Cane Cookies, Stained Glass Cookies, Maple Spice Stars, Brown Butter Shortbread, Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread, Gingersnaps, this week’s Peppermint Bark Cookies, Pinwheels, vegan/gluten-free Oat-Pecan Linzers, Pretzel Shortbread, Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints…the list goes on and on.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideDon’t forget that brownies and blondies are technically cookies, too! Pro tip: you can easily double most of my 9″ square recipes and bake them up in a 9×13″ pan without changing much of anything.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Candy on your mind? I am not the world’s most proficient candy maker, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I love a good homemade truffle, especially these vegan Five Ingredient Salted Marzipan beauties. You could also make easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge or Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams. Yum!Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideIf I were to gift candy this year, I’d go for popcorn. People LOVE popcorn. <–that’s me, I’m people. The Super Sprinkle Popcorn I made over the summer could easily be transformed with some holiday sprinkles. And then there’s Salty Maple Caramel Corn. Ohhh my. It’s salty-sweet easy, gluten-free, and makes enough for several tins. You could even get a little wild and make Sriracha Cracker Jack. Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
In the mood to make cakes? Well, you’re the kind of friend I’d like to have. Cake definitely takes a little forethought, but if you were to wrap a Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}, Meyer Lemon Drizzle Cake or Eggnog Bundt in cellophane, or deliver a grain-free Winning Hearts & Minds Cake in a (clean) small pizza box, you might just…win hearts and minds. And make someone feel incredibly special.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Don’t want to bother turning on your oven? I’ve got you there, too. Make a homemade mix! You can easily jar individual brownie and hot chocolate mixes! Just make yourself an assembly line and write (or print out) little tags with instructions for how to make your brownies or hot chocolate. This will give your friends a little low-maintenance something to do and enjoy during this weird AF holiday season.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideThis is just the tip of the food gifting iceberg–I could go on forever. I hope this guide inspires you to treat your friends to something sweet this month. It’s going to be strange and solitary holiday for many of us, and I know a little homemade something would do us all some good.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Caramel Sauce
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place sugar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar until the sugar melts and turns a deep copper color. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in heavy cream. Caramel will bubble violently, but will quickly relax into a smooth sauce. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar and let cool to room temperature.

Leftover caramel sauce should be kept in the refrigerator. Microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, to reheat.

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Brownie Mix {Easy Gift Idea}

Brownie MixChristmas is five days away! How did this happen? Where did the last three weeks go? As you read this, I am either on a plane or in Texas…unless you’re reading this before 4:15am, in which case, I am frantically running around my apartment, probably making more noise than is appropriate.

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? Are you one of those people who has all the gifts under the tree by December 15th? I definitely am not. Nope. I am not quite a Christmas Eve shopper, but I definitely procrastinate.

Brownie MixTake this blog post, for instance. I had plans to do a post about baking with small children, but when I went to prepare everything, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen. Enter my best friend, Emily. She is something I am not: logical. She texted to ask if my Cocoa Brownies were an appropriate teacher gift. They’re quick, easy, and super fudgy and delicious–perfect gift for teachers, coworkers, or anyone who makes your life simpler. But again, it’s five days before Christmas. There is no time to make ten batches of brownies.

Brownie MixSo today, let’s take the work out of making brownies. Let’s keep the oven and stove off. Let’s not even break out a whisk. Nope. Let’s make brownie mix. Just layer all the dry ingredients that go into my Cocoa Brownies into a quart mason jar, top them off with chocolate chips (and pecans, if that’s your style), and screw on the lid. Tie on a ribbon and a little note with instructions for assembly, and voilà! Another gift done, and it only took five minutes! And it makes you look like Martha Stewart! Mason jars are magical like that.Brownie Mix

Looking for more easy food gifts? Check out this Hot Chocolate Mix, or pair these Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread with a box of tea.

Brownie Mix
makes 1 quart mason jar

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or more chocolate chips)

In a quart-sized mason jar, layer ingredients in the order in which they are listed (i.e. Granulated sugar will be in the bottom of the jar). Tamp down each layer with a long-handled spoon. Screw on lid.

To make Cocoa Brownies:

1 jar Brownie Mix
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, cold, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. Set aside.

Pour brownie mix into a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together. Use a silicone spatula to stir in melted butter followed by beaten eggs and vanilla. Spread brownie batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slice and serve.

Brownie Mix {Easy Gift Idea}

Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread

Orange Cardamom Pistachio ShortbreadToday is the sixth day of holiday treats here on E2 Bakes. As far as baked goods go, I’ve posted recipes for Chai Shortbread Snowballs, Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms, Gingersnaps, and Eggnog Bundt Cake. I’ve also posted this seriously easy Hot Chocolate Mix, which is great for gifting. Another great food gift idea? Today’s Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread.

Orange Cardamom Pistachio ShortbreadI know that this may not seem much like a typical holiday cookie, but hear me out:

  1. Everybody loves shortbread this time of year. People go crazy for those classic blue tins of the stuff! 
  2. Orange and cardamom are extra delicious in the winter. Warming flavors, y’all.
  3. Pistachios. That is all.
  4. Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? Pair a little tin of these with a box of good tea and hand them out to teachers, coworkers, and others who help make your day-to-day easier. They can keep them for themselves or put them out for guests!
  5. These shortbread are ridiculously easy to make.

Orange Cardamom Pistachio ShortbreadThese little tea cookies are perfect for these last two weeks before Christmas. They’re orangey, nutty, and super buttery. The dough comes together in just a few minutes and is slice-and-bake, so you can make as many or as few cookies as you please. The most difficult part is chopping up the pistachios, but you can skip the cutting board all together and just pulse them in the food processor a few times…although I would much rather wash my knife than the bowl of my food processor 😊

Once the dough is mixed, form it into two logs and wrap them in plastic. Let them chill for a couple of hours before slicing and baking. The pistachios can make this dough a bit challenging to slice, but I’ve got a method that seems to make the process a bit less frustrating.

Orange Cardamom Pistachio ShortbreadFirst of all, use a large, sharp chef’s knife–a sharp blade is crucial to slice-and-bake success. Holding the knife in your dominant hand, use your other hand to gently hold the cookie you are slicing (this will help prevent any breaks). Slice directly down. If the edges of the shortbread rounds crack a bit, just smooth them with your fingers. Lay the sliced cookies on parchment-lined pans and bake for 14-15 minutes, until golden at the edges. Then just let them cool, make yourself a cup of tea, and dunk away!

You and your loved ones will love these Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread! You’ll flip for the warm flavors, crunchy pistachios, and buttery cookie base. When a holiday cookie is this delicious, who cares if it’s traditional?!

Orange Cardamom Pistachio ShortbreadLooking for more shortbread? Check out my Chocolate Chip Shortbread, Vanilla-Almond Shortbread, and Whipped Shortbread Snowballs!

Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread
makes about 4 dozen

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachio meats

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add sugar and honey and mix until combined. Add in the orange zest and vanilla extract, and combine. With the mixer running on low, add in flour mixture in two installments, mixing until it is just incorporated. Fold in pistachios. Dough will be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a log. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate wrapped dough for at least 2 hours, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Unwrap one log of dough. Using a large, sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough in 1/4″ installments and lay them on the prepared pans one-inch apart. Bake for 14-15 minutes, until the tops no longer look doughy and the edges are starting to brown. Unwrap the other log of dough and repeat the slicing and baking process. Let cool on the pans for for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

These keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate MixHi! How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great–I got lots of quality time with my little sister and parents, had dinner with a reader (hi Robyn!), and ate so much chocolate that I think I might soon abandon my vanilla person ways.

But now Thanksgiving has passed and November is nearly over. I got home Sunday night and immediately broke out my Christmas tree and started decorating. It’s still not finished and I have no idea where I’m going to put my Peanuts Nativity scene, but I’m definitely getting into the holiday spirit ❤️💚🎄

Hot Chocolate MixDuring the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, I did Twelve Days of Cookies. While I love holiday cookies and had a blast making all of those recipes, I felt I had limited myself. I mean, why only make cookies when there are cakes and food gifts and seasonal beverages to be had?! There will definitely be some new holiday cookie recipes over the next few weeks, but I’m expanding a bit this year. Let’s call it Twelve Days of Holiday Treats, and let’s kick it off with Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixEveryone loves Hot Chocolate. It’s a classic. Warm, sweet, creamy, comforting, and (most importantly) chocolaty, it’s a must-have this time of year. We’ve all had great cups of hot chocolate while out and about. The versions we make at home, however, are often packaged and filled with stabilizers. And they certainly don’t taste like chocolate. At least, they don’t taste like any chocolate I’ve ever had.

My Hot Chocolate knocks the pants off anything you can get in a packet. It starts with cocoa powder. Use any cocoa you like (I am fond of the deeper, richer flavor of Dutch process). Sift the cocoa into a large mixing bowl. I know sifting is a tedious process, but this will keep the Hot Chocolate Mix from being lumpy when stirred into warm milk. Lumpy hot chocolate is gross. So sift that cocoa powder and a couple of cups of confectioner’s sugar, too. You could certainly use granulated sugar, but the powdered variety dissolves more easily into warm milk and the cornstarch it contains helps to thicken the Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixNext, grate half a chocolate bar into the mix. I prefer milk chocolate, but use dark if that’s what you prefer (it’ll keep it vegan!). This will make the Hot Chocolate extra chocolaty and super smooth and creamy. Lastly, whisk in a pinch of salt. You may add some vanilla powder if you happen to have some lying around, but if you don’t, your Hot Chocolate Mix won’t suffer in the slightest. Whisk all the ingredients together and spoon the mix into an airtight container.

And then, make yourself some hot chocolate. Warm some milk on the stove or in the microwave, and stir in a few tablespoons of your mix. Drink it plain, or top it with whipped cream or marshmallows or chocolate curls–or all three, if you’re feeling feisty. You’ll love the smooth, rich chocolate flavor, and that you know exactly what ingredients are in your mug.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixWhile it’s fun to have a treat all to yourself, it’s always more fun to share. This hot chocolate recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled so you can share with your family. And, of course, you can always tie a cute ribbon around a jar of the mix and give it out as a gift.Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix
makes about 4 cups

1 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1.5 ounces chocolate (milk or dark), grated
1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Sift cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in grated chocolate, optional vanilla powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To make Hot Chocolate:
3-4 tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix
1 cup milk of choice, warm
whipped cream, if desired
mini marshmallows, if desired
chocolate curls, if desired

Whisk mix into milk until no lumps remain. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, or chocolate curls, if desired. Serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate Mix