Friday, July 30, 2010

Gifting Sweets

Buying gifts for every celebratory event can take quite a toll on your wallet, and lets face it, there seems to be an occasion to celebrate at least twice a week! Baked gifts are a thoughtful and delicious way to show friends and family that you love them without breaking the bank. However, sometimes baked good can look less like a gift and more like a last minute thought when wrapped up in plastic-wrap or shoved in a zip-loc bag. Creative, aesthetically pleasing packaging can be just what you need to turn a drab baked gift into a fab one. I have included a couple of ideas here using common household items and a little bit of creativity.

First I made these ginormous cookies! Just simple chocolate chip; everyone loves them and they are so comforting. 

Then I made a sort of parchment paper envelope and sealed it with a blank address label that I had stamped with my "merci" stamp I bought at The Paper Source.
For a bigger gift I baked a batch of Baked's "famous brownies" (recipe to follow), cut them up, wrapped them in plastic-wrap and then placed them in a brown lunch bag I had also stamped with my "merci" stamp; I then closed the bag with a hole punch and some twine. Look how cute it turned out!

And those are just two ideas! So make sure your baked gifts are the "complete package" with creative packaging.
Here is the recipe for Baked's "famous brownies." You will love them and so will anybody you gift them to :) So chewy and chocolaty with a slight hint of espresso.
Baked's Famous Brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temprature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven at 350. Butter a 9x13 glass or light-colored metal pan.
2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in the top bowl of a double boiler and set it over simmering water. 
Stir the mixture occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. 
Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and whisk in the sugars until completely combined. Remove the pan from the water and set aside until it reaches room temprature.
4. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined, then add the remaining two eggs and the vanilla and whisk until combined. Be careful not to over beat or the brownies will turn out cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and fold it in with a spatula until just combined.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few crumbs stuck to it, turning the pan halfway through the baking time. Let the brownies cool completely before you cut and package them.

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