Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas Hamper Ideas

Last year I decided to do a proper homemade Christmas, and make the majority of my presents. The problem was that I decided to knit most of them, and very last minute at that, cut to Christmas eve frantically knitting with mohair wool. Not all that fun. However I also made some little hampers for my family, which I wasn't intending to do this year, but I've had a few requests. So my next couple of posts will be ideas for treats and sweets you could make for your own hampers. Now you may think, well I haven't got time for this before Christmas... but some of these things are best made only a day or two beforehand, and really don't take long at all.

The first one is Christmas biscuits, a seriously simple idea for little presents. I make a batch of vanilla, and one of gingerbread and then wrap 2 of each in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.

For vanilla biscuits:

100g caster sugar
100g butter
1tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
275g plain flour

  • Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  • Add the flour and mix until the dough starts to come together.
  • Use your hands to knead the dough a little and then put in the fridge for a while.
For the gingerbread biscuits:

50g butter
60g caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
175g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • Melt the sugar, butter and golden syrup together over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Take off the heat and stir in the flour, bicarb and spices until the mixture forms a dough.
  • Wrap in Clingfilm and put in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours, or the freezer if you're short of time.

Now you have both lots of dough made, set the oven to 180c and line some baking trays with greaseproof paper. Roll out one of the doughs to a thickness of about 5mm, and cut out as many star, snowflakes or other Christmas shape as you can. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out shapes until there is none left. If you want to hang any of the biscuits, make a hole with a knife in them before baking, Place the biscuits on a baking tray and bake for 8-10mins.

When the biscuits are completely cool, you can ice them. Make the icing by mixing a few tablespoons of icing sugar with a few drops of water, so it is a consistency that will just about drop off a spoon, but is not runny.

The best invention in baking recently I think is disposable plastic icing bags. They come in a roll so you just tear one off, put a few spoonfuls of icing in and cut off the tip, depending on how thick you want the icing. They can just be thrown away afterwards, so no washing up! These are perfect for icing these biscuits, with whatever design you fancy.

All that's left is to either thread a piece of ribbon through to hang them on the tree, or wrap them up to give as gifts. I bought a roll of white polka dot cellophane from eBay last year, I just cut out a square and place the biscuits in the middle. Bring each corner to the middle and tie with a piece of ribbon, curling the ends. It looks really effective!

gift hamper ideas

Emily Kate

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