Last year I made a lot of the gifts that I gave to friends and family. It saved me a fortune and everyone seemed to like them. This year the intention was to make all my gifts. It’s not going to happen. I would however like to share over the next few weeks things I made last year so you can try them out for your Christmas presents. Some of these ideas are mine, others I have blatantly stolen from Nigella, Jamie and co or from images I’ve spotted on Pinterest.
This week I want to tell you about flavoured sugars and shortbread.
First up Vanilla Sugar.
This is so easy peasy that you don’t really need an explanation but here it goes.
You will need large jars, golden caster sugar and vanilla pods.
The quantities you use don’t matter, you want to layer caster sugar and vanilla pods cut in half in large jars. Seal for a minimum of a month or for up to a year. If you are gifting these try using pretty jars such as Kilner jars, making your own labels and tying with pretty festive ribbon.
As well as for gifts you should have a jar of this at home in your store cupboard at all times, use it in place of standard caster sugar in all recipes for extra flavour, as you use it simply top up with more sugar and pods.
I buy my vanilla pods from food sellers on eBay as far cheaper and in bulk.
This idea is from the Nigella Christmas book. Which is awesome by the way.
You will use the vanilla sugar in my next gift idea:
Superb Simple Shortbread
You will need:
125g Plain Flour
90g salted butter
40g Vanilla sugar plus extra for dusting
Blend your flour and sugar together before rubbing in your butter until completely combined and forming a dough. Roll into a rectangular piece of dough and cut into 8 lengths. Using a fork prick them several times and bake in a preheated oven on a greased tray for 20-25 minutes. Immediately on removing from the oven sprinkle with vanilla sugar and leave to cool on a a wire rack.
Most recipes ask for unsalted butter but I like the salty/sweet shortbread taste you get when using salted butter.
Gift in a pretty box. These are best made the night before giving as a gift. These quantities are the perfect amount for a gift for one person/or couple.
I made these today with my (almost) 2 year old and we had lots of fun making and eating them!
Coming up next week:
Jamie’s epic hot chocolate and peppermint creams.