There are (unfortunately) always those moments in life with Christmas approaching and the prospect of having to give people christmas presents looming when your bank balance isn't quite in the best state... And there are also those awkward moments when you're given gifts but aren't necessarily in the financial place to return the gesture.
But I have the solution!
There were so many people that I wanted to give presents to this year that it simply wasn't feasible so I decided to go down a more crafty route - baking and packaging the baked goods. Erring away from your more traditional christmas cookies, (one of my closest friends hates cinnamon), I chose to go with Nigella's chocolate shortbread recipe with a chocolate glaze which came out quite nicely...
Here's how I did it (recipe makes approx 24):
For the biscuits
250 grams soft butter
150 grams caster sugar
40 grams cocoa powder
300 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the festive topping
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
175 grams icing sugar
60 ml boiling water (from a kettle)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
christmas sprinkles (I bought mine from Aldi)
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/ gas mark 3/ 325 degrees farenheit.
- Cream the butter and sugar and then add the cocoa powder. When mixed well, add the flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda.
- Bake each batch for 15 minutes. They come out quite soft but cook more as they cool. (Trust me, my first batch were overcooked!)
- For the glaze: Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and whisk for ten minutes on a low heat. Let it cool before you ice the biscuits. The glaze seems incredibly liquidy but it dries hard on the biscuits so don't add any more icing sugar!
- When icing the biscuits, make sure the cooling rack is on top of some newspaper as the icing does go everywhere!
- Sprinkle some of the festive sprinkles whilst the icing is still wet as it dries quite fast.
- Let the icing cool for about 10 minutes and you're good to go!
Then what I did is package up the cookies in little cellophane bags (you can get these everywhere - try ebay or your local craft store), tie a bit of twine round them and attach a cute little gift tag for a lovely festive gift.
If you couldn't get your hands on any christmas themed sprinkles, try getting cellophane bags with festive prints on them (you can get snowmen, snowflakes and loads of other designs), but they're such a cute gift to give and because they're homemade, people don't tend to focus in on the fact that they haven't been bought a gift!
These are perfect for friends - especially if you have over five people you want to give presents too! I had twelve, hence why I opted to make something rather than buy!
The cookies are delicious and they look so pretty!
Would you ever try a homemade gift for christmas?
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