My Childhood Christmas Cookies Are the Best You'll Ever Bake
Brown butter, sweet jam, and a hint of cardamom make these Bavarian Spitzbuben unforgettable.
Coconut Arroz con Leche Tamales
Lightly sweetened coconut rice pudding provides a custardy contrast to the tender masa in these dreamy dessert tamales. Drizzled with sweet and buttery goat’s milk caramel, they also make a festive holiday breakfast.
Red Hot Lollipops
Say goodbye to red dye no. 5—these scarlet suckers are naturally colored with dried hibiscus flowers. Lollipops owe their clarity and hardness to a lengthy cook time; the resulting evaporation allows the sugar molecules to pack tightly together, yielding these long-lasting treats. Cinnamon oil (and optional cayenne for spice lovers) brings warming flavor to these lollipops. If making the hibiscus dye ahead of time, let it come to room temperature before using to prevent the lollipop mixture from seizing. Stir leftover dye into cocktails or tea to add festive color. To package these for gifting, individually wrap dried lollipops in cellophane and secure with a decorative string or twist tie.
Brown sugar pulls double duty in this brittle: slightly acidic, it combines with alkaline baking soda to produce the thousands of tiny bubbles that are crucial to this brittle’s airy texture. It also gives this candy a deeper caramel color and flavor with a shorter cook time, resulting in a more tender snap. Quality saffron is key to both the flavor and color of this vibrant, crisp brittle that has great crunch. A striking contrast of green pistachios and pink rose petals makes it a visual treat, too.
Vegan Coconut-Ginger Caramels
In candymaking, fat of any kind hinders crystallization, resulting in a softer texture. For these ginger- and chile-spiked caramels, plant-based fat from coconut replaces the typical butter, resulting in creamy, chewy caramels that are perfect for anyone on your gift list. Thai chile brings complex, fruity heat to these fragrant caramels; substitute a pinch of crushed red pepper, if desired. To reduce sticking, use kitchen shears to cut caramels into bite-size pieces; spray shears with cooking spray for extra protection. To package them to give as gifts, individually wrap caramels in parchment paper, twisting the ends to seal securely. Place in a cellophane bag or a decorative tin.
Bright orange kumquats give these gorgeous gummies their all-natural sunny glow and a puckery, sweet-and-sour flavor. To play up the tartness, a citric acid coating adds a burst of sour flavor and a craveable quality. Kung Fu Girl Riesling has notes of white peach, mandarin orange, and apricot that balance the tang. Want to gift these? The sugar-citric acid coating helps keep these gummies from sticking together when packaged in cellophane bags; pop in a silica gel packet to absorb moisture and keep your candy structurally sound and looking beautiful. Find them at amazon.com.