Baking makes me happy. Even when my treats are slightly overcooked, when I’m in the kitchen baking I feel oddly calm and relaxed. I made a lot of goodies for the dessert table at my wedding and for the most part, I was in the zone and totally unhurried. Chill. Then it all went to hell when it was more than just me in the kitchen and I started to get stressed the heck out. Still, baking. Ahh. Yes.
There’s not a lot of things that I can do for people for the holidays. I only have so much money and I’m not as crafty as I’d like to think I am. Instead, I bake.
Last year (in 2014, really), I made some special holiday treats for my Early Childhood team at work and left a tray of extras out for the rest of my coworkers. It seemed to be a hit, so I planned a similar thing for this past December. The first time around, I made Milk Chocolate Chip Gingersnap cookies, Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip cookies, Cranberry Bliss cookies, and Brown Butter Blondies.
This year I switched things up a little bit. I realized during my pre-wedding baking session that making Cranberry Bliss bars were a slightly easier alternative to the cookies, because it just took one huge baking sheet. I used three of Joy the Baker’s recipes, because she is awesome: Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies, Butter Walnut cookies, and Classic Lemon Bars. Joy’s recipes are always so easy to follow and they yield amazing results. The lemon bar recipe is a favorite in my house, but the cookie recipes were new. The brown butter toasted coconut cookies were slightly over baked, but packed with so much flavor. Brown butter, man. It makes all the difference. The bits of coconut were yummy, but not too overpowering. The butter walnut cookies were to die for. I want to make those again and again and again. Super easy to make and they look really lovely.
As an additional treat, I made chocolate covered pretzels. Such an easy process: melt chocolate, dip pretzels, and roll them in toppings. I had peanut butter cups (which I froze after chopping), kit kat bars, M&M’s, and drizzled chocolate. They make for such a pretty treat and seem like they are much more work than they actually are. Score one for me. Add some pretty packaging and you’re set!
I bought some greenery, used some fun Chinese food cartons (similar to these), brown paper packaging, mason jars, and a few filler flowers to present the sweets.
What are your go to treats for gifts? Any recipes you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.