It’s deep into December and you still haven’t bought your Christmas presents. You’ve missed online shopping deadlines, actual shops are closing all around you and panic is setting in – it’s happened to the best of us. By this point, the idea of making traditional preserves or home-infused spirits may seem like far-flung notions best dismissed, but it is possible to make your own gifts with only days to spare.
Read on for ideas on how to create edible gifts at the eleventh hour.
Quick and easy sweets
1. Microwave boozy fudge
Homemade fudge sounds like it will take an afternoon in the kitchen to achieve – not so. This 'miracle fudge' is made in the microwave. The simple two-step recipe is a touch of festive genius, plus the fudge only takes an hour to cool and set.
2. White chocolate pretzel bites
A bowl of melted chocolate goes a long way. We love these pretzel bites – just stir cranberries and smashed pretzels into melted chocolate, spoon into mounds and leave them to set. The pretzel-crushing stage is particularly good for letting out the tension that always comes with Christmas on the horizon.
3. Chocolate & ginger fridge squares
Sticky stem ginger is a wonderfully Christmassy flavour. If you like spice, try our chocolate & ginger refrigerator squares.
4. Nutty chocolate tiffin
Fridge cakes involve melted chocolate, stirring and little further labour. This tiffin contains a mix of biscuits, nuts and fruit, and it’ll set in two hours.
5. Candy cane lollipops
Our pretty peppermint lollipops use candy canes rather cleverly arranged into heart shapes, then oven-cooked until malleable enough to seal together. The set white chocolate centre festooned with edible sprinkles couldn’t be easier to achieve.
6. Cheat's Christmas caramels
These smart caramels are ready in a mere five minutes. Pick up a pack of caramels from your local shop and use storecupboard sea salt. If it’s too late to pick up the gold lustre spray, make up for it with pretty presentation. Baking parchment is your friend – neatly fold it into a sturdy parcel, or gather it in a rustic fashion and tie with a ribbon. If it’s good enough for artisan producers, it’s good enough for us.
Easy truffle recipes
Chocolate truffles are the ultimate speedy sweet. The trick is perfecting your rolling technique – watch our video, then flex those palms and get to work. If you don’t want to cover yourself in cocoa, use an ice cream scoop or teaspoon to help.
7. Fast truffle fudge
This fast truffle fudge is a hybrid dish that cleverly uses the microwave and needs only four ingredients. It's so fast it takes only seven minutes from start to finish, leaving you to stick on a Christmas film while it sets.
8. Sweet snowball bites
If you want to add a childlike, kitsch charm to the truffle blueprint, try these bitesize snowballs packed with cake, biscuits, marshmallow and more.
9. Chocolate chilli truffles
Go classic, or experiment with flavours. We’re big fans of chocolate combined with chilli and in this case, cooling mint, too. Don’t forget to coat them in something appealing. Try chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or colourful sprinkles.
Simple foodie gift jars
Rummage through the back of your cupboards for empty Kilner jars, or failing that, recycle used jam jars and cover the tops with pretty fabric secured with ribbon. Then, get to work creating an assemble-only jar. You could even put together a jar of baking ingredients so your recipient can get stuck into a cooking project in those lazy days between Christmas and New Year's Day.
10. Christmas biscuit jar
These layered gingerbread, Christmas biscuit and chocolate cookie jar recipes contain all the ingredients needed to make delicious homemade biscuits. Just layer it up, seal and go – don’t forget to include a tag with cooking instructions.
11. Hot chocolate jars with edible snowmen
If you’re stuck for something to give children, these hot chocolate jars with edible snowmen are as cute as a button.
12. Lavender sugar jar
Lavender flowers can be bought, dried, in jars and they impart lavender flavour into sugar in quick time.
Homemade recipe kits
Bespoke cooking kits couldn’t be easier to assemble.
13. Mulled wine kit
Our mulled wine box contains all the ingredients you need to infuse wine to perfection, including a clove-studded orange and muslin bag of spices. Pick up a really good bottle of red to finish things off.
14. Camembert kit
If you have a cheese-loving friend, a camembert kit with boozy sultanas will be received with open arms. Again, don’t scrimp on the cost of the main component – there are plenty of fine continental cheeses on offer in supermarkets in the run-up to Christmas.
15. Sourdough starter kit
To keep things even more simple, a sourdough starter kit requires little more than flour, a jar and neat handwriting for the instructions.
16. Gravadlax kit
Or how about a gravadlax kit, again mostly using storecupboard ingredients.
17. Whisky & pink peppercorn marmalade kit
Our whisky & pink peppercorn marmalade kit includes an optional jam pan.
Speedy jams, chutneys and preserves
17. No-cook apple chutney
You’ll only need 15 minutes and two apples to prepare this storecupboard relish. Ideally, it should be left for two or three days to infuse.
18. 10-minute mincemeat
To keep things super-festive, use our all-in-one 10-minute mincemeat recipe for a quick and effective festive gesture.
19. Quick pickled onions
If you know someone looking forward to their Christmas Day cheeseboard, quick pickled onions are sure to make a welcome addition to the fromage-a-thon.
20. Marinated goat's cheese
While on the subject of cheese, our easy marinated goat's cheese takes just 10 minutes to make, although it does need a couple of days for the flavours to develop.
Quick infused spirits
21. Chilli-infused vodka
Never underestimate the power of chilli. While, usually, infused spirits need months for flavours to develop, hot and spicy chillies will do the job in a few hours. This vodka has a hit of chopped chilli and, for presentation, a whole version is placed into the bottle.
22. Earl Grey infused gin
The bergamot oil in the Earl Grey gives a citrus hit to this tea-infused gin that takes just minutes to make. Carefully strain the gin for a stable flavour that'll last for months and serve over ice.
Easy chocolate bark recipes
Welcome to the genius world of chocolate bark. This is a guaranteed way of winning major brownie points for making your own gifts, when actually it requires little more than melting, pouring and scattering. Line your baking tray ready to go then experiment with one of our flavour ideas.
23. Salted fruit 'n' nut chocolate bark
Simple yet effective. This fruit-and-nut studded chocolate bark is made by swirling dark and white chocolate together, then scattering over your choice of toppings – we used pecans, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, sultanas, cranberries and chopped apricots for a grown-up gift. Break into shards and package up for presentation.
More like this
24. Reindeer & snowman bark
Kids will love decorating this fabulously festive chocolate bark with mini marshmallows, jelly shoe laces and pretzel reindeer 'antlers'.