One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give this Christmas season is something that you made with your own two hands. Often making your own Christmas treats will be cheaper than the those fancy box selections you find in stores this time of year. You also have the ability to customize your treat for the receipient. Below you will find two of my favorites.
How doesn't love chocolate?. What better way to experience chcoolate then with truffles. It makes for a great Christmas gift as it is viewed as a gourmet chocolate treat, that is expensive in the stories. Whoever receives them will be stunned that you made them yourself. For my recipe I turn to Alton Brown. You can view the recipe at Food Network's website. The recipe calls for the use of a heating pad to melt the chocolate, so that you can have it at the right temperature. This really does make a difference. The truffles I made last year without a heating pad did not have as hard of an outer shell. If you want to do this, I would definately pick one up if you don't already have one (it's great for many other things too!) This year I coated my truffles in cocoa powder and broken up candy canes.
When I finish my truffles, I like to place them into mini cupcake wrappers. I got mine at Walmart for $2 for 75 of them. I also picked up a $2 tin for them to go in. Tins are great because the receipient can re-use them the next year.
Homemade butter mints are a delicious minty way to end any meal. You can customize yours by choosing the colors of your choice. Last year we had some snowflake sprinkles that we picked up at a local bakers supply store that we added to the top of our mints, before they harden.
Makes about 1 pound
½ stick unsalted butter cut into slices, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners sugar (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ice water
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon peppermint oil or ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Green, red, blue, and yellow food coloring
In a large bowl, cut butter into sugar with two knives or your fingers. Add 1 tablespoon ice water, salt, and peppermint oil, and toss with a fork. Press mixture into a ball; if it seems crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough presses together easily. Turn dough out onto a work surface and knead until it's smooth and satiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Quarter dough, then tint each quarter a different color with food coloring (use sparingly; paler colors are prettier). You also could leave a quarter white. Roll dough into ½-inch balls and flatten them slightly with your palm (keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap as you work so it doesn't dry out).
They need to set for 2 to 3 hours, uncovered, at room temperature. Then move them to a covered container in a cool place (where they should ripen for 2 days to improve flavor and make them easier to handle) before being eaten or packed to ship. They will keep at room temperature for 2 weeks and in the fridge for a month.
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