Homemade Gifts From Your Kitchen

Does the thought of venturing out to the mall for holiday shopping give you the shivers? Not ready to brave the crowds and lines at the checkout counter? Then head into your kitchen and create a homemade gift that's yummy!

Before you put on your apron, consider this advice and recipe from http://baking.about.com:

* Keep your gift recipient in mind. If he or she has a food allergy or specific dietary plan that must be followed, be considerate of it.

* When in doubt, go with your specialty. Do you win raves for your chocolate chip peanut butter bars? If so, bake up a batch instead of whipping up what's on the cover of the latest magazine.

* Don't skimp on presentation. Wow them all with a decorative presentation of your gift. Fill a large mug with cookies, and wrap it in colorful cellophane. Choose a festive holiday platter, and load it up with your favorite recipe.

* Wrap carefully for shipping. If your treats will be mailed, put them in a secure container and wrap tightly. Use bubble wrap or other packaging material if you need some extra cushioning.

Ready to get started? This recipe is sure to appeal to anyone's sweet tooth.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, or very finely ground espresso beans

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

21/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted almonds or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the coffee powder, vanilla and almond extracts.

Add the flour and salt, and mix just until the dough holds together.

Add the chocolate chips and nuts.

Turn cookie dough out onto a piece of parchment or wax paper, and form a log with the dough, approximately 11/2 inches thick. You may need to make two logs. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator, slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Let cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing.

Delicious food from your kitchen could be the perfect holiday gift.


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