Nothing personifies the spirit of giving like a homemade gift basket full of festive holiday goodies. So if you’re feeling both crafty and strapped for time, here are some jolly-good treats that will only make the recipient merry and bright!
My Christmas Cheer Basket includes (all homemade, of course):
- Parmesan Paprika Twists
- Glüwhein Sachets
- Peppermint Chocolate Bark
- Beeswax Hand-rolled Candle
Parmesan Paprika Twists
The twists are absolutely delicious – you’re lucky if you’ll have enough leftover to put into an airtight container because you WONT stop eating them! Full disclosure: I made them at midnight, after a feast of take-out Thai (my favorite) and was wolfing down the twists like they were… healthy?
1 pack of store bought puff pastry
Grated Parmesan (or other hard, salty cheese)
Spread a beaten egg over a thawed sheet of puff pastry. Sprinkle a bit of paprika and grated Parmesan. Cut into ribbons of about ¾ inch wide by 4 inches long. Twist and lay on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400° for about 13 minutes.
Glüwhein is the perfect cozy drink for the winter, and although the current weather in NYC is making me crave a piña colada over mulled wine, I have to say, a mug of warm red vino is absolutely delish. Full of aromatics and pungent spices, the drink beckons evenings spent by the fire reading a book or playing scrabble.
One sachet is made for one bottle of wine.
Ingredients (for one sachet):
Cheese cloth(cut in 6 inch squares) and twine
4 black pepper corns
1 tablespoon dehydrated orange rinds
1 star anise
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ piece cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
To dehydrate the orange rinds, peel an orange and cut the rind into strips. Dry in the over for 40 minutes at 170°, or until all moisture is zapped out of them.
Place all the ingredients into the center of the cheese cloth and tie tightly with a piece of twine.
Peppermint Chocolate Bark
I love homemade chocolate bark because it is essentially creating your own chocolate bar with whatever ingredients your heart desires! When I make bark for myself, I usually adorn it with unsweetened shredded coconut and chopped almonds, but since it’s Christmas, I wanted to make something festive (but simple at the same time).
12 ounces high-quality chocolate (I used dark)
4 peppermint candy canes (hammered to pieces)
On a double boiler (meaning: sit a heat-resistant bowl on top of a saucepan with boiling water) melt the chocolate bars. Once melted, pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle the peppermint garnish. Cool in the fridge.
I think I go through as many packs of tapered candles over the holidays as I do the rest of the year – it seems as though the candles are always lit at home! So, I thought to put in some homemade beeswax candles into my Christmas gift basket, rounding out the food selection with something un-edible but also, well, related to entertaining. The smell of beeswax is alluring and different, and it is always wonderful to give a unique and thoughtful token that the recipient would not necessarily purchase on her own.
2 sheets of beeswax
2 cotton wicks
Place the wick on one edge of the beeswax sheet, leaving about half an inch of thread at the top (for lighting the candle). Gently but tightly roll the beeswax around the wick making sure that both ends are even. Continue rolling until the sheet is completely used up, or until you have reached the desired girth of candle.