There’s nothing better than a home-made gift. It demonstrates more than anything money can buy and shows how much the lucky recipient is loved. And making the gifts we’re suggesting isn’t difficult and doesn’t take any special talent!
Let’s start with a very simple recipe, an old favourite for coconut lovers.
Coconut IceWhat you need:
- 10 oz desiccated coconut
- 12 oz icing sugar
- Tin condensed milk
- Pink food colouring
Mix the coconut, the sifted icing sugar and the condensed milk together. This will be quite a thick mixture: use your hands to thoroughly mix it together.
Divide it into two. Add a little pink colouring to one half. Don’t add too much: it should be a subtle colour.
Shape each piece into a rectangle. You’re going to put one on top of the other so they need to be roughly the same size.
Put one on top of the other and press it down. The end thickness needs to be about 3 cm so roll it out a bit more if necessary.
Chill, uncovered, until firm, then cut into squares.
Line some coloured tissue paper with a piece of kitchen towel or a paper napkin, dust with icing sugar and put some coconut ice cubes on it. Tie up into a bundle with pretty ribbon.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? You can buy very expensive truffles or you can make your own for a fraction of the price.
Milk Chocolate TrufflesWhat you need:
- 4 oz milk chocolate
- 1½ oz double cream
- ½ oz unsalted butter
- 2½ teaspoons milk
- 6 oz milk chocolate
- 2 tablespoons cocoa or chocolate vermicelli
Melt 4 oz milk chocolate with the double cream and butter, either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.
Cover with clingfilm and chill until solid.
Take the chocolate truffle mixture from the fridge and divide into 16. Shape each truffle into a ball and then chill again for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile melt 6 oz milk chocolate and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the cocoa or vermicelli onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Using a cocktail stick, dip each truffle into the melted chocolate to cover, then roll it in the cocoa or vermicelli.
Leave to set. When the truffles are ready, eat one to check that they’re okay! Then place in individual paper cases – you can buy these from good supermarkets or specialist baking shops – on a paper plate. Cover neatly with clingfilm and tie with a big ribbon bow.
Because these truffles contain fresh cream, they won’t keep very well, and should be eaten within 3 days.
Use good quality chocolate for the best results.
Vary the truffles by using:
- White chocolate
- Plain chocolate
- A mixture of chocolate
- Chocolate nut spread for the filling
- Ground hazelnuts in the filling
- Brandy or rum instead of milk
- Finely chopped nuts for rolling
Shortbread BiscuitsWhat you need:
- 8 oz butter, softened
- 4 oz caster sugar
- 12 oz plain flour
Preheat the oven to 180oC, gas mark 4. Grease 2 baking sheets.
Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the sifted flour and mix that in. Use your hands to knead it all into a smooth dough.
Dust a working surface with caster sugar and then roll out the dough to about 1.5” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out biscuits and place on the baking sheets. Prick the biscuits with a fork.
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until slightly risen and golden. Cool a little and then sample to make sure they taste as good as they smell! Allow to cool completely before packing carefully into a glass jar. Tie a ribbon around the jar for the finishing touch!
Divide the dough and add 2 oz chocolate chips to one half for a selection of plain and choc chip cookies.
An old ice cream container lined with tissue and tied with a big bow would make an ideal container for these.