Holiday Guide: The gift of sugar, flour and a lot of love

You don’t have to go overboard this holiday season to give a great gift. Food is one thing on everyone’s wish list. Make these tasty treats, wrap them up with a little extra love, and they’ll disappear in minutes.

Pecan pralines

Makes around 16.

Special equipment: Candy thermometer and parchment paper

1. Combine sugars and evaporated milk over medium heat in deep sauce pan, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t bubble over. Set candy thermometer in pan, and cook until the thermometer reads 228 degrees.

2. Add pecans and butter, stir until butter melts. Continue cooking until thermometer reaches 232 degrees.

3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool until mixture loses some of its gloss; stir occasionally.

4. Spoon mixture with large soup spoon onto parchment paper. Let cool for half hour.

5. Either place on holiday plate or, for a little extra touch, cut parchment paper into squares, and wrap pralines individually and tie with a ribbon.

Holiday brownies

Makes 12 large brownies.

Put aside the boxed mix and delight your friends and family with homemade brownies. Add a little confectioner’s sugar on top with a holiday design!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan with

either butter or vegetable oil. Set aside.

2. Melt butter. Add the cocoa and sugar in a large bowl and combine with butter. Add eggs and vanilla, stir again.

3. Add flour and salt.

4. Pour into greased pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.

5. Let cool completely, at least for a half hour, before adding patterned confectioner’s sugar on top. To create a design, cut out a stencil of your choice. These can easily be found online.

Homemade hot chocolate mix

Serves one.

Everyone loves hot chocolate, and this makes it easier for everyone to enjoy.

Combine all ingredients and place in paper bag. Staple bag closed and add following instructions on a tag: Add contents to one cup of hot milk.

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