Cookie baking is a tradition for many at the holidays—be it to share with neighbors, coworkers, Santa Claus, or to add an extra surprise to a stocking. But if you’re looking to make your holidays even a little sweeter, here are some other fabulous treats that make for great stocking stuffers from favorite chefs like Ina Garten, Giada de Laurentiis, and more. One is even perfect for the gluten-free or vegan person on your “nice” list.
Scotch Caramels with Smoked Sea Salt
Ready to try your hand at candy making? These luscious caramels from Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings by Leela Cyd, add a smattering of salt and a splash of single-malt Scotch for a sophisticated touch. Put them in a pretty box or wrap them individually in wax paper and you’ve got a gift that looks like it came from a gourmet shop.
When it comes to classics with a special twist, Ina Garten never disappoints. Her Spiced Pecans, inspired by the former head chef at Chez Panisse, David Lebovitz, combines sugar, vanilla, ginger, chile powder, black pepper, and cloves. While Ina likes to serve them alongside a cheese platter, we think they make great standalone stocking stuffers too. Even better: they can be made up to two weeks ahead (just try to resist eating them all in the meantime)!
Salty, Chocolatey Peanut Buttery Crunchy Bars
These salty-savory little squares of homemade candy from Alton Brown EveryDayCook take the classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter—and add a salty kick to it. You can make them up to a week ahead of time and store in an airtight container. Alton says, “I usually give this stuff away as bribes…it’s that powerful.”
There’s something so elegant about a well-made Madeleine. Maybe it’s because they’re so very French, or maybe it has to do with their classic scalloped shape. Whatever the case, a gift of these lovelies dusted with vegan sugar will impress and delight. This particular recipe, from beloved New York bakery Babycakes, is both gluten-free and vegan.
Cinnamon Kettle Corn
Who doesn’t love popcorn—particularly when it comes doused with a sugar/vanilla/cinnamon mixture? This Cinnamon Kettle Corn from Giada de Laurentiis’ Giada’s Feel Good Food is easy to make and perfect to add to pretty little bags. Pop them in a stocking, maybe along with a gift card to a favorite movie theater.
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