Now that we’ve turned our calendars to December, it’s time to get serious about holiday gift giving. Here at Nosh, we believe that some of the best gifts are hand-made, edible ones — they may have a shorter lifespan than a VR headset scored on sale the day after Thanksgiving, but they’re just as (if not more) thoughtful. And because we stand by homemade gifts, we’re here to help you choose the best possible selection. Thanks to our friends at Bay Area Bites, Uproot Kitchen and Butter, Sugar, Flowers, we’ve put together a collection of some of our favorite treats that can be neatly packed into a gift bag or spooned into a cute jelly jar.
Cranberry Curd While fresh cranberries are still on sale at Berkeley Bowl, grab a bag and make a batch of this tart and vibrant curd. Its decadent creaminess and hints of vanilla and salt offer a perfect balance that will make you — and your gift recipients — want to spread it on nearly everything. The curd can be a cookie dip, a spread for scones, or a scrumptious filling between cake layers. Layer it in a trifle or drizzle it over ice cream; spread it on toast, pancakes or waffles. Sky’s the limit.
Rosehip Graham Crackers When homemade honey grahams meet the unexpected but delectable flavor of rosehips, delicious things happen. The rosehips bring a perfect bit of earthiness that’s almost herbal-tasting, along with a faint whisper of tartness reminiscent of fresh sourdough bread. Crisp and buttery, rosehip graham crackers are so tasty, light and small, they’re impossible to put down.
Pumpkin Caramels After a holiday dinner is over, it is nice to send guests home with a little treat that’s not pie. Homemade pumpkin caramels make great bite-sized party favors — or gifts to take to friends over the holiday — that truly shine with the flavors of fall. They may sound like a lot of work, but these miniature candies are not terribly difficult once you get the hang of boiling sugar. Plus their layers of rich pumpkin and sweet maple flavor means that a little treat goes a long way.
Honey Dijon Caramels Or give these savory-sweet honey-Dijon caramels a try. While the honey, brown sugar and vanilla offer a familiar harmony, the bit of mustard comes through with a pleasing, faintly smoky hint of seasoning. They’re not too mustardy, not too distinct: they just have a pleasant complexity that’s left many tasters both curious and addicted.
Orange Cardamom Cookies With their distinctive spice, tangy citrus punch and decadent tad of a topping, orange cardamom cookies bestow not only fragrant succulence but also gem-like beauty. Soft and crumbly with a chewy center, the variety of texture and flavor in each bite is a salute to the versatility of the warm spice inside.
Whiskey Fig Browned Butter Bars Soft and buttery, these whiskey fig bars burst with luxury and succulence. The ultra-tender fruit offers mellow hints of warm liquor and vanilla. Meanwhile, the silky batter bestows a delightful depth of flavor: molassesy brown sugar, flecks of toasty browned butter, and a perfect portion of salt.
Turkish Coffee Meringues Flavorful and fragrant, Turkish coffee meringues are full of sweet coffee taste and delectable spice. Not unlike the drink that inspired them, their little size delivers a robust burst of flavor and a welcome pick-me-up. They are crisp, light and satisfying, and for me, they echo the festive feeling of their namesake brew.
Sesame Halvah Cookies Surrounded with buttery dough and topped with rich chocolate, the decadence of halvah is truly celebrated in these one of a kind cookies. A sprinkle of fragrant sesame seeds matches perfectly with the nutty candy within, just as the crisp adornments pair nicely with the crumble of the cookie. With their marvelous flavors inside and out, sesame halvah cookies are a lovely way to rejoice in the season, whether given as a gift or devoured immediately.
Quinoa Almond Crunch Granola For the health-concious among your friends, consider making a batch (or two) of this easy, yet totally delicious, granola. It is perfect over a bowl of yogurt, a thick smoothie, or served sprinkled over sliced strawberries, nectarines or plums. With the warming flavors of cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup, it’ll sure to be your friends’ new favorite cereal to sprinkle over just about everything.
Rooibos Capetown Cookies Tropical, floral, fruity and light, these cookies are abundant with delicious flavor. Their crisp, airy, chewy texture is surely satisfying, and their quick and low oven time lets the taste of the fragrant rooibos come through beautifully.
Sazerac Cookies With a soft, lemony center that’s speckled with fragrant anise, these decadent cookies are perfectly enrobed in their cocktail-rich glaze. The sazerac icing envelops each bite-sized treat with a crisp, sweet, subtly boozy shell — and the tiny twist of lemon is a charming echo of the drink’s traditional garnish. Herbal and citrusy, sazerac cookies have proven to be a welcome treat by drinkers and non-drinkers alike. They celebrate the spirits behind them, just as they usher in a spirit of celebration. Cheers!