The best presents come straight from your kitchen
For unique presents that charm everyone on your holiday list, especially those following a special diet, head to your kitchen. Homemade food gifts are not only festive, they’re highly personal and much appreciated by the recipients. Plus, they’re easy. These gluten-free gifts in a jar can be prepared in no time at all.
To save money, buy a case or two of small and large wide-mouth mason jars. You can also pick up unusual jars in home stores and discount shops. Use colorful cupcake liners for lid covers. Just smooth them out, place them upside-down on the lid and seal. Then tie ribbon or bakery string around the lid to hold the tag, a recipe card and ingredient list. Finally, include bonus items to round out the gift, like wine with our mulled wine mix, maple syrup with our pancake mix, mugs with our hot chocolate mix and dog biscuit cutters with the homemade dog biscuits.
Gluten-Free Apple Pie Pancake Mix
MAKES 12 SMALL GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES
Giving this gluten-free pancake mix with a small container of pure Vermont maple syrup makes you a breakfast hero. Breakfast is served!
1 cup dried apples, packed
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon apple pie spice
½ teaspoon baking soda
1. Dice dried apples into ¼-inch pieces.
2. Place apple pieces, flour blend, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, apple pie spice and baking soda into a medium bowl and stir to combine.
3. Carefully pour mix into a jar and seal.
Apple Pie Pancakes Recipe
MAKES 6 GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES
1½ cups (½ jar) Apple Pie Pancake Mix
½ cup + 2 tablespoons milk of choice
1 large egg (or 1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons hot water)
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons high-heat neutral vegetable oil, for greasing skillet
1. Place 1½ cups Apple Pie Pancake Mix in a medium bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg and 2 tablespoons oil until smooth.
3. Add wet ingredients to Apple Pie Pancake Mix and whisk until combined.
4. Lightly grease a skillet (cast iron is best) with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and heat skillet.
5. Scoop ¼ cup batter onto hot skillet to cook. Flip pancake when it forms bubbles and the edges look crisp and start to brown. Cook on second side until done.
6. Serve warm pancakes with butter or dairy-free butter alternative and maple syrup, if desired.
Each pancake contains 176 calories, 8g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 36mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 9g sugars, 3g protein, 16Est GL.
Best enjoyed within 2 months
Gluten-Free Maple Caramel Corn
MAKES 12 CUPS
This gluten-free recipe is a delicious twist on a holiday favorite. For best flavor, wait until the simmering caramel turns the color of a dark copper penny. Take care while stirring extremely hot caramel; keep small children and pets away from your work area.
1 tablespoon neutral high-heat oil
½ cup unpopped popcorn
1 cup chopped nuts of choice or pumpkin seeds, optional
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup butter or dairy-free butter alternative
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 225°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them generously with nonstick spray. Spray a large silicone spatula with nonstick spray; set aside with the baking sheets.
2. Heat oil in a large stockpot with a lid until oil begins to shimmer. Add popcorn and cover the pan. Once popcorn begins to pop, shake the pan until you no longer hear any kernels popping. Immediately turn popcorn into a very large bowl and let it cool completely. Fold nuts or pumpkin seeds into popcorn, if using.
3. Place brown sugar in a deep-sided small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in maple syrup, butter, salt and cream of tartar until just melted. Stop stirring and let mixture simmer until it reaches 260°F to 275°F on a candy thermometer or boils at a low simmer about 3 to 5 minutes. Mixture will be the color of a shiny copper penny at first. When it’s the color of a dark copper penny, remove from heat immediately. (Mixture can go from perfect to burned in a flash.) Once removed from the heat, quickly add baking soda. Then add vanilla and spices or herbs, if using. (See Variations.) Mixture will foam up. Stir until it stops foaming and looks smooth, about 10 seconds.
4. Immediately (and carefully because it’s super- hot!), pour the caramel all at once over the popcorn and fold with greased silicone spatula until popcorn is coated. Work quickly because caramel will begin to harden the second it comes off the heat. Pour gooey popcorn mixture onto prepared baking sheets (using the same spatula) and try to spread it into a single layer.
5. Place in preheated oven and bake 1 hour, rotating pans and stirring the mixture after 30 minutes. To test if Maple Caramel Corn is done, remove a few pieces, cool to room temperature (about a minute) and taste test. If it’s crunchy, it’s done. If it’s still soft, keep it in the oven a little longer. Cool completely and store in a covered jar or tin for best results.
Each 1-cup serving contains 159 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 129mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 21g sugars, 1g protein, 18Est GL
When mixing in the baking soda and vanilla, stir in ½ teaspoon chipotle powder, cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice or herbs (such as thyme or rosemary).
Hot Chocolate Mix with Marshmallows
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
Made with ground chocolate and reminiscent of the famous Angelina’s in Paris, this gift is a step up from ordinary hot cocoa. Let the mix sit for a day to meld the flavors before giving it away. For a special touch, add holiday-shaped marshmallows. To make them, cut jumbo marshmallows into 3 even slices. Then use a small holiday cookie cutter to shape each slice. (For best results, coat the knife and cookie cutter with nonstick spray before cutting the marshmallows.)
Dip each freshly cut marshmallow into a mixture of half cornstarch and half powdered sugar and shake off excess.
Hot Chocolate Mix
2 cups (one 10-ounce bar) good-quality semisweet chocolate bar, chopped*
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
½ teaspoon chipotle powder, optional
1 vanilla bean, optional
12 holiday-shaped marshmallows, optional
1. In a food processor, pulse together chocolate pieces and cocoa until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, espresso and chipotle (if using) and pulse just until blended.
2. Place in a gift jar. Add whole vanilla bean to the mixture by pushing it into the chocolate.
3. Place marshmallows in a cellophane bag and attach it to the jar with a ribbon.
Hot Chocolate Recipe
MAKES 1 CUP
4-5 tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix
1 cup milk of choice
2 marshmallows, for topping, optional
1. Spoon Hot Chocolate Mix into a mug.
2. Place milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave and heat until it begins to boil.
3. Pour 1/3 of the milk over Hot Chocolate Mix and let sit a minute. Stir until all chocolate is dissolved in the milk. Then fill mug with remaining hot milk and stir to combine ingredients.
4. Serve hot, topped with 2 marshmallows, if using.
Each 1-cup serving contains 330 calories, 20g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 24mg cholesterol, 102mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 33g sugars, 8g protein, 19Est GL.
Gluten-Free Mulled Wine Recipe
MAKES 6 CUPS
1 whole orange
3 cups orange juice or apple cider
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
1 recipe Mulling Spices, placed in a muslin bag
1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
¼ cup dark rum or brandy of choice
6 cinnamon sticks, for stirring
1. Remove peel from the orange, reserving peel. Chop up the orange, removing any pith.
2. In a large nonreactive saucepan, heat orange pieces, orange peel, orange juice, maple syrup and Mulling Spices together over medium heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Mixture will reduce and thicken slightly.
3. Add red wine and rum and heat over a very low flame, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm, adding a single cinnamon stick to each cup.
Each 1-cup serving contains 218 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 9mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 18g sugars, 2g protein, 9Est GL.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Spinach Dog Biscuits
Remembering our four-legged friends at holiday time is a tradition in our house. We make batches of festive gluten-free biscuits and give them away in small and large bites. These are super easy to prepare. When dried as directed, they last for weeks at room temperature.
Tie the recipe onto the jar. Include a bone-shaped biscuit cutter as part of your gift.
Cranberry Spinach Dog Biscuits
MAKES 12 large gluten-free biscuits (48 small)
21/2 cups brown rice flour + ½ cup more for working dough
¼ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup grated Romano cheese, optional
3 large eggs (or 3 tablespoons flax meal combined with
9 tablespoons hot water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place 2½ cups brown rice flour, cranberries, chopped spinach, cheese (if using), eggs and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until dough comes together in a ragged ball. It will be slightly sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a floured surface (use the remaining ½ cup flour) and knead until dough is smooth. Wrap dough in plastic and chill until firm, about 3 hours.
4. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll it to a generous 1/8-inch thickness between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. (Roll dough slightly thinner for smaller or older dogs.) Cut out as many dog biscuits as possible and place them close together on prepared baking sheets. Place baking sheets in the refrigerator 15 minutes to chill biscuits.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
6. Place biscuits on baking sheets in preheated oven and bake 6 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes (shorter time for smaller biscuits, longer time for large biscuits). Without opening the oven, turn the temperature off and leave biscuits in the oven to dry completely, about 1 to 2 hours. Remove from oven and leave biscuits out on your counter overnight to continue drying. A perfectly dried biscuit will snap and crumble when broken. Place in jars and seal.
Each small dog biscuit contains 173 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 23mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 5g protein, 20Est GL.
Contributing chef Lisa Stander-Horel (glutenfreecanteen.com) is author of Nosh On This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish American Kitchen (The Experiment Publishing).