10 Homemade Food Gifts

Gourmet presents you can afford to give

By Roxanne Webber

Bitters for the Cocktail Basket
Bitters for the Cocktail Basket

CHOW Bagels for the Bagel Breakfast Kit
CHOW Bagels for the Bagel Breakfast Kit

Fruitcake That's Actually Good
Fruitcake That’s Actually Good

DIY gifts don’t have to involve Martha Stewart–style cheesiness (make your own gourd candles!) or miles and miles of raffia. We’ve put together a list of 10 homemade gifts that don’t take a ton of work or extensive visits to a crafts store, and are going to save you some money over buying the equivalent in a gourmet market.

1. Cocktail Basket. Upgrade someone’s bar with a bottle of homemade bitters, a jar of pickled cocktail onions, and some simple syrup flavored with black peppercorn or other spices. Add a bottle of infused spirits like our Spiced Rum, Ginger-Infused Vodka, Chile-Infused Tequila, or Oat and Honey Vodka, as well as a bag of Spicy Cereal and Nut Mix.

2. Exotic Spice Mixes. If you have cooks in your life who like to go beyond lemon pepper and garlic salt, whip up some exotic spice mixes for them to play with like dukkah, an Egyptian blend of nuts and spices; Indian masala made fresh; ras el hanout, a blend used in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria; and khmeli-suneli, a Georgian mix of herbs and spices.

3. MYO Popcorn Tin. Instead of buying one of those big barrels of popcorn dusted with neon-orange cheese powder and fake butter flavoring, put together your own tin. Popcorn is cheap, so you can afford to dress it up with stuff like Parmigiano-Reggiano and black pepper, cinnamon sugar, and black sesame seeds and mustard. Keep each type fresh in a resealable plastic bag, and put one bag of each into cool cheap tins.

4. Trio of Digestifs. Offer up some stomach-soothing digestifs flavored with Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, and fennel for post–holiday gluttony relief.

5. Sweets Tray. It wouldn’t be the holidays without some delicious sweets around. Make up a gift tray with our Nutty White Chocolate Blondies, Mississippi Praline Macaroons, Coconut-Date Icebox Cookies, and Charles Chocolates Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles. If baking isn’t your style, pick a recipe like our Salty Hazelnut Brittle, which is prepared on the stovetop, and make it your signature gift.

6. Fancy Condiment Pack. Prepare our Sweet Hot Mustard, Shallot-Tarragon Jam, Beet Horseradish, and Medjool Date Chutney, and put them in cute jars. Keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to give them away, then group them together in a gift bag for an elegant set.

7. Bagel Breakfast Kit. If you have a friend hosting his or her family for the holidays, offer some backup. Make our Cured Salmon and CHOW Bagels, pick up a few containers of cream cheese at the store, and pack it all into a reusable shopping bag.

8. Assorted Nuts. Nuts are a classic holiday snack, and we have four great variations: Try our Five-Spice Glazed Nuts, Honeyed Cashews with Kosher Salt, Chile-Lime Peanuts, or Candied Pumpkinseeds. Either give one type, or make gift packs with a few different varieties if you have the time.

9. Salad Kit. If you have a health nut in the family, or just know someone who’s trying to eat healthier over the holidays, put together a little box of salad stuff for him or her. Sprout some herbs in little containers, fill a pretty bottle with our Red Wine–Parsley Vinaigrette, and make a bag of Garlicky Croutons, then place it all in a crate or shallow box so it’s easy to transport.

10. Fruitcake That’s Actually Good. Surprise your giftee with a delicious fruitcake. Our White “Groom’s” Fruitcake doesn’t need to be aged, so you can give it fresh as a gift. It’s buttery like a pound cake and full of pecans, cherries, pineapple, and currants that have been soaked in bourbon and Cointreau.

CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.
Roxanne Webber is an associate editor at CHOW.

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