One of the great things about Christmas time is making Christmas treats. Even people who never venture near an oven feel the urge to make Christmas cookies or attempt a Christmas cake. Baked goods and other treats can make great Christmas gifts.
Everyone has people that they want to do more than just a card for, but don't really want to buy a gift for (for example, your children's teachers, neighbours, friends at church, etc.). Putting together little plates of treats is fun, easy, and relatively inexpensive, and makes a great home-made gift. We recently made up some plates of goodies for people that we go to church with and my daughter's preschool teachers.
It's traditional at Christmas (here in England at least) to have mince pies. The problem is, not very many people actually like mince pies. So we made mini apple pies instead. I cheated for the sake of time and used pre-made pastry, and just rolled it out myself. I put it in buttered and floured muffin tins, and blind baked the shell (to blind bake, line the uncooked pie shell/pastry with greaseproof paper, and put something like dried beans on top of that, and part bake in the oven. This makes sure the the bottom of the shell is properly cooked and doesn't go soggy when the filling is added). Then we filled it with the apple filling. Earlier in the year when we harvested our apples, we had jarred some apple butter: spiced apple sauce. I pulled that out, and added some chopped crystallized ginger and mixed dried fruit (mostly raisins and candied orange peel). If you don't have apple butter, you could use plain apple sauce, and add cinnamon, and a dash of cloves and nutmeg, as well as some brown sugar and dried fruit. We filled the mini pie shells.
For the top of the pies, we wanted something that was easy and seasonal. So we rolled out the pie crust, and then with the kitchen scissors we cut out shapes like stars and hearts that we placed on top of the pies.
After that we baked them for about 20 minutes. The result was adorable. Single serving size, delicious mini pies that looked Christmasy.
We also made rice crispy treats (your standard butter, melted marshmallows or marshmallow cream, and rice crispies ones with sprinkles on top). The girls loved it because they could do almost all of it by themselves.
We also made mini brownies (in paper cupcake cases), with white chocolate drizzled on top, and several varieties of sugar cookies (I'll try to do a separate post on those, including recipes).