Hand­made gifts a great Christ­mas idea

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Give the same-ol’ sweater and socks rou­tine the sack and go DIY this Christ­mas. DIY gifts are thought­ful, fresh and uniquely you.

Easy to make presents in­clude bis­cuits, soap, sauces, cal­en­dars, scrubs, recipe books and art. But let’s start with ev­ery­body’s favourite: choco­late.

Truf­fles are easy to make, and wrapped in a cel­lo­phane bag or pre­sented in a tin box with a per­son­alised tag, they’re a great gift for any choco­holic or gour­mand.

Truf­fles can be flavoured with just about any­thing. Ex­per­i­ment with your favourite liqueur, re­duced fruit juices, and spices and essences to pro­duce a sig­na­ture treat. 100ml milk cup ground cof­fee beans 1kg dark choco­late but­tons 250ml cream 50g but­ter 1 heaped tbsp glu­cose 30ml rum 70g co­coa Bring milk and cof­fee to a sim­mer in a saucepan. Strain through a cof­fee fil­ter or clean tea towel. Melt 500g of choco­late and place in a large bowl.

Bring cof­fee-in­fused milk, cream, but­ter and glu­cose to the boil and pour over choco­late.

Add rum and stir with a whisk un­til smooth and shiny. Pour into a con­tainer and set in the fridge.

Use a tea­spoon to shape into balls and place on a tray. Freeze. Melt re­main­ing choco­late. Cover a tray with the co­coa. Us­ing your fin­gers, coat truf­fles with choco­late and drop onto co­coa so that they don’t touch each other.

Ag­i­tate tray so that truf­fles roll around and be­come cov­ered in co­coa. Store in an air­tight con­tainer with ex­cess co­coa on top in the fridge.

Makes about 100.

De­light the senses and evoke the taste of Christ­mas with a lit­tle ginger­bread. You can also get creative with the cookie cut­ters and dec­o­ra­tions to in­ject a lit­tle ex­tra Christ­mas cheer. For coloured ic­ing, add a few drops of food colour­ing be­fore knead­ing and mix it in well. 200g but­ter 90g su­gar 90g brown su­gar cup trea­cle 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp ground gin­ger tsp ground cloves 1 egg, beaten 450g plain flour 2 tsp bi­carb soda Pinch salt 500g ready-made white ic­ing (sold at su­per­mar­kets)

Cream the but­ter and both sug­ars to­gether un­til light and fluffy. Add trea­cle, spices and egg. Mix well.

Sift flour with bak­ing soda and salt. Add flour to but­ter and egg mix, a lit­tle at a time, stir­ring well af­ter each ad­di­tion.

Knead dough lightly, wrap in cling film and re­frig­er­ate for one hour. Pre­heat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Roll out dough thinly on a lightly floured sur­face. Cut out shapes and place on trays lined with bak­ing pa­per. Bake for 10 min­utes.

Re­move from oven, place on wire racks and al­low to cool. Re­move the ready-made ic­ing from the wrap­per and knead (if the ic­ing is hard, mi­crowave on medium power for 20-30 sec­onds to soften).

Lightly dust the work sur­face with ic­ing su­gar and roll out the ic­ing thinly. Cut out shapes with a pas­try cut­ter. Brush the cooled bis­cuits with water and place the ic­ing shapes on top. Press down lightly.

Want to make some­thing other than a Christ­mas cake? Get creative and make a cake of soap. You can make a bunch of bars in one go for use­ful, sweet smelling gifts. You’ll need: Boil­ing pot Mold­ing trays Mix­ing bowl Wooden Spoon Elec­tric Mix­ing Wand Wax Pa­per (re­quired if us­ing a wooden mold­ing tray to pre­vent soap from stick­ing when hard­ened)

Rub­ber / cook­ing gloves

A beau­ti­ful body scrub is great for guys and girls and you can scent it any way you like. Here’s what you’ll need: salt or su­gar oil – or­ganic ex­tra vir­gin co­conut oil is great but you can use any type of oil es­sen­tial oils if you choose a bowl a spoon a glass jar to store the scrub

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