It’s this magical time of the year again – with cozy Christmas Markets, warming mulled wine, romantic skating rinks and… those overcrowded stores, where everyone seems to be seized by gift buying hysteria!
Personally I get a bit overwhelmed starting from the very beginning of December and always tend to postpone gift shopping till the very last minute. It’s just too many people, too many boxes, too long lines to the cash desks. So, this year I decided to try something new for a change: I am going to make presents myself! You don’t need much to make your dear ones happy – your love and a lovely jar with a little surprise can work magic, right?
So, let’s go to a local store, grab different sized jars (there are plenty of them in the supermarkets and they are reasonably priced), some cute ribbons and cards for the cutest personalised gifts and we are ready to roll!
You’ve probably already seen something like this in fancy food stores – big jars with beautifully layered dry ingredients for baking. Actually, there’s nothing easier than making one yourself!
All you need is find a trusted cookie recipe (if you know your dears’ favourite one – even better), get the dry ingredients and combine them in a contrasted pattern in a jar. 500 ml jars work perfectly and allow to fit in all ingredients.
Don’t forget to write the full recipe on a post card – remember, the wet ingredients like eggs and butter are still missing – and better try the recipe yourself first.
I always thought that to make real jam at home you need tons of sugar and hours of free time – this is how I recall the process from my childhood, watching my granny preserving summer berries for winter.
In fact, the whole thing turns out to be pretty simple: these days you can easily get basic thickener in the baking section of any supermarket. This thickener allows to use much less sugar and saves you loads of time – my clementine jam was ready within only 20 minutes!
For winter time jams I prefer to go for seasonal fruit like clementines, oranges and grapefruits – they are bright, rich flavoured and, agree, they just smell like Christmas!
By the way, there’s no need to sterilise the jars – if stored in the fridge they can survive up to 10 days. So, just make sure you cook the jam 1-2 days before presenting to your dear ones and warn them about the timing.
Infused sugar is sooo easy to make and can be a great gift option to pretty much anyone – from a passionate baker to a sweet tooth, who loves a flavoured twist in his coffee. All you need is a small air tight jar, white or brown sugar and the main “infusing” ingredient – with vanilla beans or powdered cinnamon you can never go wrong. Just combine vanilla seeds or cinnamon powder with sugar, seal tightly and leave to develop that lovely taste. Voila!
A small spoonful of infused sugar is perfect for tea, cofee, morning bowl of oatmeal or yogurt. Let’s not forget about all those salted caramel recipes, sweet sauces and of course cookies.
One thing to keep in mind about infused sugar – the longer it sits the better it will taste, so make sure you prepare it in advance!
he list of the jar gifts can definitely go on – hot chocolate mixes, crunchy granola, home made marinades – experimenting can be so much fun! So, don’t limit your fantasy and make a little something for your friends and family.