Homemade Holiday Gifts: Barks, Brittles, Breads, and More

By: Alison Sickelka
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Cookies aren't the only thing baking this time of year. It's also the season for barks, brittle, bars, breads, and more. And all of these sweet treats conveniently make awesome homemade gifts.

Holiday eats work great as gifts for several reasons. Gifting a baked good doesn't require you to know what's hot in music, movies, or video games. It doesn't set a precedent where the person has to gift something back (this works well for co-workers, bosses, your children's teachers). Plus, homemade baked goods convey a level of thoughtfulness that even your mother-in-law will appreciate.

Here are our top picks for homemade holiday eats that make awesome presents.

Bark, Brittle, and other Candies

Bark is an unfortunate name for a candy. I mean, it's hard to muster up enthusiasm for something named after a tree. But bark is essentially a loaded up chocolate bar that you can tailor to the recipient. How awesome is that? And brittle lends itself towards customization, too (just be sure the person you're giving it to isn't allergic to nuts).

Johnny Iuzzini, executive pastry chef at Jean Georges Restaurant, uses a woodgraining tool on his peppermint bark to create a sweet treat that's reminiscent of its namesake (pictured above).

Or check out the December issue of the Food Network Magazine. Not only do they give a basic how-to for creating bark, but their DIY recipe leads to 129,600 possibilities! I'm looking forward to trying out the Dried Fig-Smoked Almond combo. ( Photo courtesy Food Network Magazine)

Roger Mooking gives brittle the Everyday Exotic makeover and uses pine nuts instead of a more traditional nut.

Muffins and Other Quick Breads

In the mad rush of holiday parties, cookie swaps, and last-minute shopping, why not provide your friends and family with a comfort-food breakfast? And for an extra special treat, you can include a basket or the tin you baked the goodies in as part of the gift. This works well for banana bread, muffins, and if you're more into desserts, brownies and other bars.

Kelsey Nixon's Lemon-Blueberry Muffins would look great gifted in a holiday basket.

Or if you have a friend who's not afraid to do a little baking on their own, gift them a pan of Kelsey's Pecan-Cinnamon Rolls, unbaked. All they have to do is pop them in the oven for an ooey, gooey breakfast treat.

Infused Liquors, Infused...Everything

Homemade gifts don't have to just be baked goods. If you have a cocktail-crazy friend, treat them to a bottle or two of infused liquors. Try out Food2's Hot Pepper-Infused Tequila (it makes a killer margarita), or check out this article by Frank Bruni for even more ideas (vodka infused with Atomic Fireballs!).

Infusing shouldn't just be limited to alcohol. Giada infuses olive oil with pancetta to create her Pancetta-Balsamic Vinaigrette. It's great for dipping bread.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Food Network's Healthy Eats blog is serving up a gift idea for 12 days straight. First up? Homemade vanilla extract. "Using high-quality, pure vanilla extract can make all the difference in baked goods and whipped cream, but the good stuff can get pricey! You can make some that’s beyond better for a fraction of the cost. This gourmet-caliber extract makes an ideal hostess gift or stocking stuffer for anyone who loves to cook."

Check out all their Holiday Gift Ideas.

Want even baked goods to gift? Check out our Holiday Desserts photo gallery for pecan bars, gingerbread, and more.

Candies, quick breads, hot-pepper tequila..are you gifting any homemade holiday treats this year?
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