Making healthy taste great
A homemade gift is the sweetest thing. Not fancy, just straight from the heart. We cooked up three base recipes, with variations-and sprinkled with decorating tips.
Nothing brings tidings of cheer like fresh and delectable treats that the whole family can enjoy. This year, spend a little time in the kitchen and create gifts that everyone will love. Where to begin? We'll start you off with a basic recipe that you can then use to create two more variations. Then, add a sprinkle here, a ribbon tied there, and pretty soon you will have beautiful gifts for friends and family that are both fun to create and a delight to receive.
Iced Sugar CookiesBase Recipe: Iced Sugar Cookies
Add water to icing a drop at a time for thinner spreading consistency. Decorate with dragée (sometimes called sugar pearls), gold or silver dust, and coarse or sparkling sugar, and tint the frosting with food color paste. All are available at coppergifts.com. Make the cookie dough up to a month in advance, wrap it tightly, and freeze. Thaw dough completely by placing it in the refrigerator overnight.
9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons egg white powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
Sparkling sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cookies, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking powder, stirring with a whisk. Place butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until well blended. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined.
3. Shape dough into a 4-inch round, and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 40 (2 x 3-inch) cookies, rerolling scraps as necessary. Place cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 9 minutes or until lightly browned on bottoms. Cool on a wire rack.
4. To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar, egg white powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring well. Gradually add 2 tablespoons water, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Decorate cookies as desired. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Let the cookies stand on a cooling rack until icing is completely dry (about 1 hour).
Gingerbread CookiesVariation 1: Gingerbread Cookies
These cookies can easily be made into snowmen if you prefer. First, "flood" snowman-shaped cookies by spreading thin frosting with a small offset spatula to coat, if desired. Pipe thicker frosting from a zip-top bag to outline. Use a toothpick to make small dots of icing that act as glue for decorative details like sugar pearls.
Pecan CookiesVariation 2: Pecan Cookies
Dust cookies with a bit of powdered sugar for a finishing touch that's not too sweet. Place sugar in a fine sieve, and shake it over cooled cookies.
Vanilla CupcakesBase Recipe: Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting
A touch of butter adds rich, luxurious flavor to the meringue, but admittedly, it also deflates it a bit. For a fluffy, snow-white cap, omit the butter as we did for the photo on left.
Chocolate CupcakesVariation 1: Chocolate Cupcakes
Use a block or bar of good chocolate for your garnish of chocolate curls. If you rub your thumb over the surface two or three times and then shave, the curls will be less brittle and less likely to crack and break.
Red Velvet CupcakesVariation 2: Red Velvet Cupcakes
Dot the thick frosting with a few drops of red food color paste, and stir gently to give it a swirled appearance. Carefully spoon into a zip-top bag, and pipe out.
Buttermilk Bundt CakesBase Recipe: Buttermilk Bundt Cakes
Here we offer three garnishing options for these adorable, delicious cakes: Simply dust with powdered sugar, pipe a bit of glaze over the top, or completely dunk the cakes for a heavier coating. Make the cakes up to two weeks ahead. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze, omitting any garnish. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then dust or glaze. Look for mini Bundt pans at kitchen emporiums or big box stores. Be sure to coat the cups of the mini Bundt pan well with baking spray with flour added. Cakes will stick if you use regular cooking spray. Although the mini cakes are really cute, you can bake one large cake, if you prefer. It'll just need to bake longer, about 45 minutes total.
Cranberry-Orange Bundt CakesVariation 1: Cranberry-Orange Bundt Cakes
For a glaze that completely covers the cakes, dip the tops into glaze and swirl them around a bit to make sure the glaze coats and sticks.
Cranberry-Orange Bundt CakesVariation 2: Hummingbird Bundt Cakes with Bourbon Glaze
You'll only need a touch of the bourbon glaze, but for sugar hounds, you can double the glaze and garnish with more.