In Italy it is traditional to give gifts of food during the Christmas season, a practice I have undertaken for many years. It gives me great joy to make my special holiday treats to share with family and give as gifts. The preparation for my baking usually begins the day after Thanksgiving with the grinding of figs and nuts for Cuccidati (Sicilian Christmas cookies). If I only make one cookie, this is it! But you know I will make a few others. A gift of food that has been lovingly prepared is always well received; a reusable wrap adds a nice touch. I have put together a list of some of my favorite gifts of foods, homemade as well as those I purchase, along with some suggestions for wrapping. This image (left) contains Fichi Marmellata, (fig jam) wrapped in a cloth napkin, tied with a serving spoon.
Sicilian Caponata, a flavorful antipasta traditionally served with bruschetta, also makes a delicious sauce over pasta. Since it’s a rustic dish, I added a wooden spoon for serving. I used individual cupcake boxes I found at Wallmart (package of 3).
You can use wrapping paper on gifts of food, but I feel adding another element the recipient can use, like a napkin or dishcloth makes it a little more special. Keep a lookout for bargains throughout the year, especially after Christmas for holiday prints and ribbon.
These are a few of my favorite gifts of food, to make and give not only during the holidays, but as a little something extra throughout the year:
Sicilian Arancello – A very special liquor, similar to limoncello … only better!
Salame Dolce – A chocolate confection that is easy to make and a fun food to bring to game night, movie night or just about any type of party.
Pistachio & Candied Orange Biscotti – Pistachios and oranges, traditional ingredients of Sicilian cuisine, are perfectly paired for a delightful sweet bite of dolce. Packed in a beautiful tin, this is a thoughtful hostess gift any time of the year.
Orange Marmalade – To be enjoyed with biscuits and scones, used as a glaze for pork and poultry and when added to white balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil creates a flavorful dressing for salad greens and fruit.
Better than Nutella Chocolate Spread – Include a small spatula for smearing and suggested uses.
Olive Oil Granola – Healthy and flavorful granola can be enjoyed as cereal, a topping on yogurt or right out of the jar.
Fiori di Sicilia Biscotti – A Cookie Exchange Party favorite.
Almond Ravioli Biscotti – Another favorite at the cookie exchange.
Scorzette di Arancia – Candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate … need I say more …
Torta di Prugna – This is a special cake of prunes and nuts wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth (gets even better as it ages).
lemon Curd – A thoughtful gift to bring to a dinner party, for the host and hostess to enjoy the day after the party.
Fichi Marmellata – Give with a box of rosemary crackers for a simple appetizer.
Sweet Rosemary Nuts – An invitation to play cards with friends or hosting your own game night, calls for these special munchies.
Roasted Balsamic Onions – A delicious, versatile condiment that will have them asking for more so be sure to include the recipe.
Sesame lemon Biscotti – These biscotti are appreciated any time of the year. Fill a teapot with them for your favorite tea lover.
Baked Ricotta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Give a set of ramekins along with the recipe.
Espresso Biscotti – Stand biscotti on end in a coffee mug, wrap in cellophane, tie with ribbon for an unexpected treat for a co-worker.
Roasted Crunchy Chick Peas – A different kind of healthy snack to bring to the party.
Panettone – A Christmas morning tradition in this house! There was a time I could only get this Christmas cake from Italy, now it’s everywhere. I have tasted them all (almost) and several are very good. When purchasing this special Christmas cake, you want one made with real butter (or extra-virgin olive oil not vegetable oils).
Holiday Cake Pops – Fun on a stick! Plant several in a flower pot filled with candy of the season, or wrap individually in a cake pop bag, tied with a colorful ribbon.
Espresso Brownie Pops – For your favorite caffeine lovers.