Janet's Notebook
Give The Gift of Food This Holiday Season


Chocolate Amaretto Truffles


Whether looking to make something for the host/hostess of a holiday party or wanting to give something personal to a friend, I love the idea of making homemade treats. There's something so special, in my mind, when I give (or get) a homemade gift.

No different than in years past, my party calendar is booked this holiday season. I'm about to get busy in the kitchen making homemade gifts I know my friends and family will love.

If you've ever gone to a bakery (or grew up around an Italian family) you've probably seen rainbow cookies. They are an almond sponge cake with layers of raspberry jam and chocolate poured on top. What makes them very special is the trio of colors in each cookie. The green, white, and red colors mimic the Italian flag. They're delicious but expensive.

Thea Pappalardo (Queens Village, NY) has a recipe for Rainbow Cookies you can make at home for a fraction of the cost. "A good friend gave me this recipe and I make these every Christmas," shares Thea. "Everyone loves them and says they are better than those from the bakery."

These cookies have a distinct almond flavor with hints of raspberry. They do take a little bit of time to prepare but the outcome is worth every minute.

The hardest part of Alice C.'s Christmas Jam is smashing the berries. I love the sweetness of the jam from the strawberries, but then it's slightly tart from the cranberries. The combination of strawberry and cranberry is divine. It would be delicious on toast, part of a PB&J sandwich, or on top of a cracker with cream cheese. Just delicious.

"My mom would use festive holiday bowls and bring these Pinulada (Honey Balls) to people she would visit," reminisces Roberta Savio (Jacksonville Beach, FL). "[They're] fun and easy to make. I remember making these when I was just a kid."

These cookies get a bit crisp on the outside but stay soft on the inside. They really take on the taste of the honey sauce. Colored sprinkles add a crunch and make these very festive. I've seen these called Struffoli too and are a great little bite to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Biscotti are great to give as gifts. Place a few in a cellophane bag and you have a perfect treat alongside tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. A recipe that recently got a Blue Ribbon was Kathy W.'s (Englewood, OH) Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Biscotti.

"Who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate," asks Kathy. "I wanted a biscotti that reminded me of a peanut butter cup. Not layered or a peanut butter cookie coated with chocolate, but a peanut butter cup."

Well, Kathy succeeded! These biscotti are so good people will think you picked them up at a bakery. It's chocolaty and has a mild flavor of peanut butter. Whether this is dipped or drizzled with chocolate, these are so good.

Those big caramel apples found at the store are soooo good. But what I don't like about them is the price. Stephanie Van Den Berg (Pataskala, OH) feels the same way, so she came up with her Holiday Chocolate Caramel Apple recipe.

"I received one of these as a gift last year and loved it so much I made them for all my neighbors this year," explains Stephanie. "They are easy and cost me about $2.30 each including wrapping and ribbon."

These apples are layered with caramel and chocolate. Then they're drizzled with white chocolate. Last, the apples get a sprinkling of toffee chips and chocolate candies. The best part of this recipe is you can customize it with toppings you prefer. Chopped nuts would be great. Maybe shredded coconut? Yummo!

"I love making candy at Christmastime and giving it as gifts," reveals Barbara Scott (Winchester, VA). On her list are her Chocolate Amaretto Almond Truffles and they're a fabulous little treat. The amaretto and chocolate go together so good and the crunch of the almonds on the outside is a nice touch.

Giving the gift of food during the holidays is meaningful. For me, it's how I communicate love to friends and family. If you want to share the joy too, I highly encourage you to try one of these recipes. Happy Pinching!



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