Do you have folks in your life who are really tough to Christmas shop for?
I’m sure you do. Heck, maybe you’re even one of those people.
Let me just make a simple recommendation for you from my experience and observations as a cook, baker & blogger: give food. I mean it. If yo really don’t know what material present to buy someone, scrap the idea entirely and just give them food. Think about it for a second:
Food is your fail-safe. A guaranteed winner. There’s plenty of options, it’s customizable to whatever favorites your intended has, and it also doesn’t have to be an expensive gift–especially if you’re willing to cook or bake it yourself.
I’ve found that when it comes to Christmas goodies, people are EXTREMELY easy to please. Cookies. Pie. Cake. Brownies. Candy. Bread. As long as it’s tasty and appealing to the eye, there isn’t much that’s going to be turned down.
(I still haven’t met a fruit cake that’s palatable, but hey, maybe someday.)
If your gift-giving is going to be limited to your near vicinity, then you’ve got a lot of options for baking. However, if you’re planning on sending long distance then you’re gonna have to be willing to make a few conscientious decisions as to what you’re baking and sending just for practicality’s sake. It’s possible to mail just about anything, but that doesn’t make it convenient or cheap–not to mention the fact that you’ve got to ensure it’ll get to where it’s going in one piece.
Today’s recipe would be a perfect one for gift-giving and shipping in the mail for a couple reasons: first, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated or kept cool. It doesn’t go stale. Second, you won’t have to have the same concern about cracking and breaking the goods in rough transit, because this stuff is already supposed to be broken into shards.
Looks better that way anyway.
I took my first foray into the bark making field two years ago for the Christmas series with this Graham Cracker Toffee Bark. It wasn’t just extremely easy to make, it also tasted glorious. I knew that I would want to give it another go sometime; albeit it with more variety to the recipe. What makes this one different is that instead of using graham crackers as your base that you pour hot sugar over, this recipe makes the cookie itself. The dough is flavored with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, then spread nice and thin in a sheet pan then baked in the oven until it browns and essentially caramelizes itself and takes on a crunchy toffee flavor and texture.
After that, all that’s left to do is drizzle it with some icing and melted chocolate, pop it into the freezer, then started smashing it apart, peanut-brittle style.
BAM. You’ve got a tray full of goodies that would make the very pickiest of people to shop for, extremely happy. If you wanted to group them into individual treat bags for a crows, I would even include this recipe written or typed onto a little card attached to it. It’s pretty simple and it’s always a great idea to pass Christmas cheer like this along, don’t you think?
Spiced Cookie Bark
Recipe Courtesy of Land O Lakes
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spiced Sugar Topping
- 3 tablespoons coarse sugar (like turbinado or demerara)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
- Christmas colored Sprinkles, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan wit aluminum foil, making sure the foil extends over the ends, about 1/2 inch. Spray thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg together in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
Combine sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Fold the dry ingredient mixture into the wet, using a fork to begin with. Once it starts to come together into a solid mass, switch to your hands.
Dump the dough out into the prepared pan and use your fingers or a rubber spatula to press it into an even layer.
Combine all of the spiced sugar topping ingredients together, then sprinkle on top of dough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then using the foil to gently lift out of the pan and onto a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
Melt the dark chocolate and white chocolate chips in separate bowls. Using the tines of a fork, drizzle on top of cookie bark alternately. Sprinkle the Christmas sprinkles on top. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes to allow chocolate to set.
Break bark into pieces with a knife or bench scraper. Store in an air-tight container.