10 Best Homemade Gifts
Chai Caramels with Salted Pepitas
To achieve a perfectly smooth caramel, Jami Curl of Quin Candy in Portland, Oregon, suggests gradually incorporating, in this case "poking," the granulated sugar into the corn syrup base instead of stirring it in. "Stirring sugar encourages recrystallization," says Curl. "That will create a grainy texture in your finished candy that nobody wants."
Crispy Whole Wheat-Maple Crackers
These sheets of pastry are made with maple syrup and sprinkled with maple sugar, then broken into shards.
Instead of strawberries, fresh blueberries are paired with rhubarb in this incredibly simple and delicious sweet-tart jam.
Crunchy Walnut Toffee
Spiced Gingerbread Cookies
Julianne Jones's wonderfully zingy gingerbread cookies have a tender and cakey texture, yet they're sturdy enough to decorate. As an alternative to the icing here, you can sprinkle the tops of the cookies with demerara sugar (a coarse, raw cane sugar) before baking for a nice crunch.
At Dominique Ansel Bakery, bags of this chocolate-covered toffee come with a tiny hammer to break off pieces. "I love the idea of making something for Christmas that can be shared," Dominique Ansel says.
Store-bought mulling spices are often muted. In this vibrant version, oranges and fresh ginger are dehydrated and blended with whole spices. Each spice packet is designed to flavor one bottle of apple cider or a soft, fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel.
Jami Curl of Quin Candy in Portland, Oregon, uses sheets of silver leaf gelatin to help give these delicately minty marshmallows their smooth, pillowy texture. While granulated gelatin is more accessible, it does not melt as evenly as sheet gelatin and can make for gritty marshmallows.
Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
This striking chocolate bark swirled with matcha white chocolate is the perfect DIY gift. And feel free to mix it up with the toppings: In place of sesame seeds, for instance, you could sprinkle with sweetened crumbled nori, flaky sea salt or roasted salted pistachios.