As much as I hate to admit it, I consider myself a rather pitiful gifter. I never seem to find that perfect item for loved ones and tend to fall back on the standard pair of earrings, clothing item or even a seemingly thoughtless gift card.
Personally, I prefer to save others the stress and hassle of shopping for me. An edible gift goes such a long way, not only because it’s delicious, but also because of the obvious care and thought that goes into it. Consider something different in lieu of the traditional gift exchange this year with these warm and loving ideas.
Mini Banana Oat Loaves
makes three loaves
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
- 1teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cups shredded coconut
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three mini loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3-inch) and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the bananas and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and add the mixture slowly to the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the oats, coconut and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into greased mini loaf pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes and remove from pans. Cool completely. Store refrigerated.
Roasted Herb Mixed Nuts
- 4 cups raw mixed nuts of choice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except half of the salt until the nuts are well coated. Pour the nut mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet in one, even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, toss one extra time and keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. Allow the nuts to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti
makes about three dozen
- 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1 lb 60% bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest until well blended. Sift together the flour and baking powder and slowly add it to the wet ingredients. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form the mixture into a freeform rectangular loaf about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool long enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf into 1-inch wide cookies and return them to the baking sheet, flat side down.
Bake the biscotti for another 6-8 minutes on each side until golden. Allow cookies to cool completely. Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly. Be careful not to overheat it or allow it to come in direct contact with the boiling water.Once the chocolate is melted, dip each biscotti into the chocolate so about an inch of the cookie is coated. Lay the coated biscotti on a piece of parchment and allow the chocolate to harden completely.
Try gifting these with a nice bag of gourmet coffee or hot chocolate and a cute mug!
Jen Foley is a professional chef and a new mom based in Grand Rapids. You can find her online at www.chefjenfoley.com.