Sunday, November 21, 2010

Holiday Gift Giving

Every year as I was growing up my mom would whip out her angel food cake pan and her mini loaf pans to make carrot cakes. We took them to parties, we gave them away as gifts, and if we were lucky there might be some for us on Christmas morning. The recipe was my granny's, and if I remember correctly after she passed mom found the recipe written into the back of almost every single one of granny's cookbooks. This tradition was the first one I thought of when I read of the theme for the third week of A Gluten Free Holiday. The theme is Gifts of Good Taste, and is being hosted over at Tasty Eats at Home. I knew just how to dress it up, too. Mom always did red and green curling ribbon wrapped around the saran wrapped loaves, and I didn't stray to far from that tradition.

I even did a modification to the recipe so that my monkey could have it. Why make something he can't have, right? The modifications went swimmingly and it popped out of the oven tasting exactly right. The consistency is a bit different, but we have been finding that to be true of most things that are gluten free. Unfortunately, I can't share the recipe with you. We, my mom and I, decided awhile ago that we would keep granny's recipe in the family.

Carrot cake gift to give after a cuppa and a small snack of cake & pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Since I couldn't share those I decided to share a couple of other recipes/gift ideas that I have done through the years. The first is the hot chocolate recipe my family has made for eons. So long that I don't remember every seeing those little packet things in my mother's home. I haven't been able to find rice milk powder, which is the first of the ingredients (maybe the only?) that I would need to substitute for the monkey. If you use it and decide to modify to dairy free let me know. I would love to hear if it is just as creamy and yummy as the original. I will note now that you will need a pretty large bowl to whip this up.

Instant Hot Chocolate Mix (origins unknown)

12 quart Carnation Instant Milk
1 pound jar Cremora
2 pounds Nestle Quick
1 1/2 Cups sugar
7 Teaspoons cocoa powder (heaping-don't level these off)

Dump all ingredients into a large bowl or the lid for your electric skillet, and mix thoroughly. Store in airtight containers for several months.

To make a cup of cocoa: Fill your mug just under 1/2 full of cocoa mix. Fill with boiling water, stirring constantly. Add more cocoa to taste. Serve with marshmallows or just drink plain.

Note: For gift giving I would tuck it into the stocking with a copy of the recipe or pretty it up in a holiday cello bag then tuck it into a mug again with the recipe.

My mom came to be with me six years ago when I had the monkey. One of the things we did while she was there was go antiquing, and general sight seeing that you can do with a new born in Central Arkansas. We found a little shop selling pretty bags of snack mix they called "White Trash." We bought it simply for the name. I ate the whole bag with barely a pause, and decided to try and figure out what exactly they had done. I found this recipe for White Chocolate Snack Mix that nearly mimicked it. This current version used crisp rice squares, apple-cinnamon o's (365 brand from Whole Foods), dried cranberries and cashews. Oh, and a bit of dark chocolate as I didn't quite have enough white chocolate. I wonder if it ought not to be called "Dirty Blonde."

Note: I would tuck the cocoa (or my own cocoa) into the little gift bag with the mix and recipe. I really enjoy receiving recipes, and think that makes things just a bit sweeter for the gift recipient.


  1. I'm still at somewhat of a loss as to what I'm making for everyone this year... These are some good ideas to start with, though! I'm just torn between wanting to do something quick and easy, and pull out all the stops. I guess we'll see what time allows...!

  2. I am SO doing treats for gifts this year for some of our family. I hate trying to come up with gifts for aunts/uncles/cousins. Special foods are a great way to solve that. I love the hot cocoa idea.

  3. I think I have always enjoyed the simple for both giving and receiving. Not that I wouldn't want somebody to make me some stollen, but I think the hot cocoa with a candy cane or just a small box of cookies is just the thing in this season of overindulgence. :)

  4. Wow what good ideas. Love the hot cocoa in the stocking. Very clever.