Homemade Gifts

Chocolate Bark

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This is such an easy treat to make.  Simply melt your chosen chocolate, pour out onto a tray lined with parchment paper and spread evenly until about 1/2cm thick.  Sprinkle on your chosen topping and add to the fridge to set.  Once completely cooled, break the chocolate into shards and it’s ready to serve.  This is a perfect homemade Christmas gift and it looks so impressive. There are so many different flavours to choose from but here are a few of my favourites:

Milk chocolate with chopped cranberries and almonds

White chocolate sprinkled with broken candy canes and edible glitter

Dark chocolate with crystallised ginger and cardamom

Milk chocolate topped with cherries and mini marshmallows

Dark chocolate with caramelised nuts

White chocolate topped with broken pretzels

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Popcorn

Popcorn is the perfect Christmas Eve treat!  There’s nothing better than snuggling up in a cosy pair of pyjamas with a classic Christmas movie and a huge bowl or popcorn.  It also makes a great homemade gift when presented in a cellophane gift bag tied with pretty festive ribbon.  The only problem is choosing a flavour…

Oreo Popcorn

This is perfect for children but it is also my personal favourite and was a hit with my Dad when I made it for him last Christmas.

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1 bag or sweet or regular white popcorn

12 Oreos (broken into small pieces)

170g Vanilla candy melts

If using popping corn, heat according to package instructions, listen carefully to the popping and try not to burn the popcorn.  Once popped, remember to move any remaining un-popped kernels (you don’t want to bite down on one of those).

Mix your popcorn with the crushed Oreos in a large bowl until evenly distributed.

Next, microwave the candy melts.  I usually heat for around 20 seconds, give it a quick stir, then put back into the microwave for another 20 seconds.  Do this until they are fully melted, glossy and smooth.

Drizzle the candy melts over the popcorn mixture little by little and stir with a rubber spatula until all of the melts have been added and the full mixture is evenly coated.

Spread the mixture out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and allow to set.  Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

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Salted Caramel Popcorn

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17g light soft brown sugar

300ml double cream

50g butter

1tsp salt

1 bag of salted or regular white popcorn

Add the sugar, cream, butter and salt to a saucepan, set over a low heat and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.  Turn the heat up and let the sauce bubble for a couple of minutes until golden and glossy.  Add the popcorn to a large bowl and stir the sauce in little by little until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Set the oven to 150 degrees.  Pour the coated popcorn out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for around 30 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before breaking up any clumps of popcorn which might have stuck together.  Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

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Gingerbread

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260g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

95g butter (cubed)

130g light soft brown sugar

1 free-range egg

3 tbsp. golden syrup

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter to the mixture and rub together with your fingertips until the mix looks like breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together (you might have to use your hands to bring the mixture together). Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. You can also roll the mixture into balls and gently press down on the baking tray to create round gingerbread biscuits.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing, cake decorations or chocolate.