Gifts from the kitchen are something special. Thoughtful and always welcome, they deliver love with every bite. And as well as a gift you know will always be eagerly received, make-your-own treats can also be an inexpensive present option whatever the occasion.
Among my favourites to make and give are crisp grissini sticks, delicious summer fruit jams, rich chocolate truffles, buttery shortbread, and jars of oozy chocolate sauce made using my Grannie’s recipe.
But at this time of year, with the festive season upon us and an incredibly long gift list on my fridge door, I turn to ingredients that are synonymous with a celebratory state of mind – dried fruits, nuts, citrus, honey and spices in particular. I’ll kick off with my rich and dense chocolate-orange panforte, which is perfect to give as a generous whole round or cut into wedges so the joy can be shared between many. Believe me, a little of this panforte goes a long way, which is why I also often make it in smaller individual rounds – cute and perfectly sized for a little gift or to include in a basketful of goodies.
Another wonderful recipe that makes excellent use of these festive ingredients is the one for my cherry and orange florentines. Studded with punchy sour cherries and scented with fragrant orange, they are truly a sweet-tooth’s delight.
Which brings me to an important consideration when choosing a recipe for gifting – the receiver’s preferences and likes. Are they lovers of the savoury or the sweet? Would they swoon over a box of pretty and almost deadly-rich chocolate crackle cookies or much prefer a jar filled with rosemary-spiced cashews – salty, toasty and addictive, these nuts will be secreted away for self-indulgent private snacking, I guarantee it.
For those who like to entertain, my twice-baked mixed seed and fig crackers are reminiscent of those fancy savoury crackers you buy from good delicatessens and specialty food stores (but made at a fraction of that price), and perfect to serve with fresh goat’s cheese or brie. I have friends who aren’t shy about asking specifically for these crackers when I’m bringing something to add to a cheese plate.
The holiday season also offers the opportunity for delicious sleep-ins and long, slow breakfasts. So add to your friends’ ultimate special breakfast experience with a delectable maple, cardamom and almond granola – I promise delectable morning treat will have them thinking of you with every mouthful. And if I were you, I’d make a double batch and keep one for your own festivities at home. It’s the season of goodwill and delicious treats for everyone, after all.
Cook Anneka's recipes
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray.
View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes.