How to Make Edible Gifts from Plymouth Experts

This year, make your presents edible—and make the crafting a gift of time well-spent with the entire family.
Mix and match chocolate coverings and candy details for an irresistible holiday platter.

A homemade gift is more meaningful than something hastily snatched up at Target, but it can be tricky to execute, especially those of the edible variety. The thoughtfully wrapped peanut brittle loses a bit of its charm when it’s charred on the bottom, and who really needs another tin of Christmas cookies?

We consulted some of our local food connoisseurs—readers and eaters alike—and snagged some fresh recipes for gifts that are easy to make and sure to delight any lucky recipient. Get the whole family involved in the production line and make a jolly evening of it—just be sure not to consume too much of the product in the process.

Rosemary Shortbread
Courtesy of Peg Rasmussen, Peg’s Countryside Café
“We make these for teas; you can add a festive tea cup or tea blend for the final product.”

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. mild honey
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Garnish: Small rosemary sprigs [optional, but recommended]

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and rosemary in a bowl; set aside. Mix butter, honey and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture and until dough resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Gather dough into a ball, and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about eight times. Halve the dough, and form each half into a 5-inch disc.

Between two sheets of parchment, roll out one disc (keep remaining dough at room temperature) into a 9-inch round (trim as necessary). Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer dough on bottom sheet of parchment to a baking sheet. Score dough into 8 wedges by pricking dotted lines with a fork, then mark edges decoratively. Arrange rosemary sprigs (if using) decoratively on top of dough, pressing lightly to help adhere, and sprinkle dough with 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar.

Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Slide shortbread on parchment to a rack, and cool 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board, and cut along score marks with a large heavy knife. Make another shortbread with remaining dough.

Note: Shortbread keeps in an airtight container at room temperature about one week. Substitute for the rosemary 1–2 tsp. dried lavender buds, crushed, for a delicate and delicious variation.

Reindeer Cookies
Courtesy of Cindy Carlson, mother of three
“This is a very rich recipe, so even one or two goes a long way.”

1 package Nutter Butter cookies
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz. package white chocolate chips
Miniature pretzels
Cinnamon red-hots or red M&Ms
Optional: Googley eyes (available in most confection aisles)

Melt the chocolate chips using a microwave-safe bowl at 50 percent heat in 20-30 second increments, stirring between each heating until fully melted. Dip pretzels, and set them to dry on a wax-lined cookie sheet or wire cooling rack.

Melt the white chocolate chips using the same method. Dip one Nutter Butter cookie, and before the chocolate dries, place vertically atop two chocolate pretzels, such that they form “antlers” on one end. Add googley eyes (upside down chocolate chips can be used here, too, or mini brown, blue or green M&Ms) and red-hot or red M&M at opposite end of dipped cookie for a Rudolph nose, then allow to dry fully. Package in cellophane wrappers and ribbon.

Note: Use excess melted white chocolate as an edible glue for the antlers, or reinforce with a small amount of royal icing once fully cooled.

Giant White Bean Hummus with Sweet Potato Chips
Courtesy of Peg Rasmussen
“We use little ceramic casseroles that hold one cup of hummus. We package the chips, and put it all in a little gift bag; they make great client appreciation gifts.”

 ½ lb. dried giant white beans
4 Tbsp. roasted red peppers, diced
4 Tbsp. roasted red onion, diced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
¼ cup tahini
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Minced garlic to taste
½ cup olive oil
Sweet potato chips (Lunds/Byerly’s brand are Rasmussen’s favorites)

Soak white beans overnight. Drain water, and cover beans with fresh water by 1.5 inches (you might need to add a bit more water as the beans cook). Add salt to water so there is just a hint of flavor. Cook beans until tender, approximately 40 minutes; drain.

Add beans and all ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor. Turn on, and drizzle olive oil into the processor until beans are smooth. You might need to add more oil if you want a less-tight hummus. Adjust seasoning—salt and pepper, garlic, lemon and/or vinegar—to taste.

Glazed Nut Mix
Courtesy of Bethany Hanley, mother of two
“This can be an expensive gift (due to the cost of the nuts), so focus more on the packaging, and wrap smaller amounts. A little star dish wrapped in cellophane and a ribbon or even pre-decorated cupcake-tin liners work nicely.”

1 egg white
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. raw whole nuts of your choice (cashews, walnuts, almonds work well; add peanuts for filler)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg white until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and vanilla. Add nuts, and stir to coat. Spread evenly onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (an important step), or until well toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Meringue Surprises
Courtesy of Peg Rasmussen
“As a child, I thought these were the grandest cookies I had ever tasted, because they were like little clouds with a chocolate surprise inside. They can be colored to match the season.”

4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups of chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. Beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop mixture by the teaspoon; bake 25 minutes, then cool five. Makes ten dozen.