If you don’t want to fight the traffic and crowds that inevitably come with Christmas shopping, you can always order gifts online. Or you can pick up a few extra things on your next trip to the grocery store and hand-make the type of gift that many people end up enjoying the most and remembering the best long after the holidays have gone: an edible one.
I’ve got three ideas that range from incredibly easy to easy to still pretty darn simple, so you don’t have to be much of a cook to pull them off. And they have something else in common too. They’re all throwbacks to things my mom (and I bet yours!) used to make as gifts or for parties. Who can forget the classic cream cheese mint or jars of spiced tea?
5 jalapeno peppers
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2.5 tablespoons liquid fruit pectin
Sterilize 4, 8-ounce glass jars and lids and keep jars in hot water until ready to fill.
Process all of the peppers except one in a blender or food processor with the lime juice.
Bring the sugar and vinegar to the boil and add the pepper-lime mixture. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
While the mixture is coming to a boil, chop the remaining pepper.
After the mixture is cooked, add the pectin and bring to a boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat.
Fill the jars to within 1/4” from the top, wipe the tops and rims clear of any spills and place lids on, and tighten.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
CHRISTMAS CREAM CHEESE MINTS
Makes about 5 dozen
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
colored granulated sugar
Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar just a little bit at the time and mix until fully incorporated. Toward the end, add the extracts. The dough will start to get pretty stiff, so you may have to mix it by hand (actually with your hands) at the end.
If you have candy molds, sprinkle red and/or green decorating sugar into the molds then press a small ball of the cream cheese mix into your mold. Pop them out onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Let sit, uncovered at room temperature, for 24 hours. Store in airtight container in your fridge for up to two weeks.
If you don’t have candy molds, roll small balls of the cream cheese mixture in red and/or green decorating sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Take a fork and press down one way, and then turn the fork and press down again to create a crosshatch patter. Let sit, uncovered at room temperature, for 24 hours. Store in airtight container in your fridge for up to two weeks.
1 cup instant tea
2 cups Tang (or other similar orange drink mix)
2 cups sweetened lemonade powder
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and divide into jars with lids or other airtight containers. To serve, stir three (or four if you like it Tang-y!) teaspoons into 8 ounces of hot water.