Happy Holidays!

Where are you with your gift preparation?

It is so easy to just make a purchase at the nearest mall, have it wrapped, put a label on it, and produce a presentable present.

There is nothing wrong with that if you have the financial means and sharing your time is not what you have in mind. I, for one, firmly believe that holiday gift giving has become too commercialized. There is often very little thought that comes with the gift.

Years ago, when an occasion arrived for gift giving, my focus was automatically on shopping. Nowadays, I am enthusiastic about creating my own gifts. It gives me the opportunity and pleasure to show off my love, caring, and personal touch for the receivers of my gifts.

And you know what? I may even spend less money. Some of my favorite homemade and thoughtful gift ideas are:

  • Homemade coupon books
  • Babysitting hours (for children, pets, etc.)
  • Free musical lesions (piano, guitar, violin, etc.)
  • Homemade cookies or cookie jars

This list is limited only by your creativity, talents, and willingness. Remember, the gift of time and effort is one that tends to keep on giving. Here are a few easy recipes to help you bake your gift of homemade cookies.

Christmas Cookies with White Chocolate – Baking one of the best Christmas cookies does not have to be time consuming. Along with photo illustrations, this recipe will walk you through the easy process step-by-step.

Pecan Tassies – A Miniature Version of Pecan Pies – Making irresistible pecan tassies is a snap with ingredients and simple instructions in this recipe.

Ginger-Snaps – Besides being very easy to handle, the dough for these Swedish ginger snaps is filled with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, molasses, and orange zest.

Rugelach with Apricot and Pistachio Filling – Cream cheese is just one of a few ingredients you need to make these delicious rugelach. There are also images to help you through the preparation process.

Homemade Biscuits with Chocolate and Cranberries – Ingredients and baking directions for scrumptious sweet biscuits and their perfect companion, chocolate butter.

These tips are to help you arrange the most impressive cookie platter for any occasion.

What causes the “snap” in ginger-snap cookies?

  1. The crystallization of sugar (sucrose) in the baked cookies. Homemade cookies are flexible in the oven because sugar is dissolved, but become firm and brittle with time when sugar is allowed to re-crystallize.

  2. When the moisture content is low, starch and protein in flour are glassy and become very brittle.

It is the brittle break that causes the audible snap in ginger-snap cookies.

Wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2008. Keep on baking!

Published date: December 23rd, 2007

Copyright 2007 by Trinh Lieu. All right reserved.