Homemade Christmas Food Gifts

For regular readers, you may have read my post about Caledonian Hampers & their foodie gifts. Sometimes, however, the personal touch is best, especially when it comes to Christmas.

I’ve compiled a list of food gift ideas that you can make to give to your loved ones this Christmas. Given that there’s just under 4 weeks, all of these can be prepared in advance, whether it be weeks or a couple of days which gives plenty of time to be organised!

For jars to store things like jams & chutneys, I would highly recommend Ikea (if you can get to one) as they have jars from 80p that are ideal sizes for giving presents. Other places you can buy containers from are Hobby Craft, Lakeland, Argos, eBay & Amazon. To decorate your gifts, items such as festive ribbon & labels can add a personal touch. I got some beautiful ribbon from Hobby Craft which was £2 for 3 metres. BBC Food & Delicious Magazine both have amazing print off labels that you can use on jars or bags. BBC Good Food also have a handy guide on how to make a Christmas Hamper.

I’ve included what I think is a varied list, without going overboard (cutting it down was very hard). However, if you know of others, please let me know & I will update the list.

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Nucoco Chocolate Making Class

I’d heard of Nucoco Chocolate before when popping into the Good Spirits company but hadn’t tried any of their products. When I heard via Facebook that they were going to be running chocolate making classes at the store, I figured I would go along & see what it’s all about.

 

          Dark Chocolate & pistachio / Dark Chocolate & rum soaked cranberries (my fav!)

For those who haven’t heard of Nucoco, they are a Scottish company who pride themselves on making good quality chocolate. They have a few products including bars, smash bars(larger slabs, smashed up into bitesized pieces) and drinking chocolate. The mix of flavours are also quite different, including Rum soaked cranberry & tablet.

Walking into the room, each desk had a bowl, spatula, apron & printed book per person on it. At the front, there were a couple of machines along with a LOT of chocolate. Before we got our hands dirty (and they got very dirty!), Jackie told us a bit of background about Nucoco & the chocolate that they make. It was really informative & always a good to get a background into a company. Then the time came for us to get stuck in!
                             
                            Jackie prepping the chocolate

One of the larger machines on the table, we were told, was a chocolate tempering machine. What that roughly translates as is, you can melt chocolate in it without burning it or ruining the colour. We were given the choice of making a slab of chocolate or individual bars – I opted for the bars. After receiving our freshly melted chocolate, it then had to be transferred to the moulds. This was a lot messier than it seemed. After putting  the chocolate into the moulds, you then have to scrape the excess chocolate off and bang the mould to get all of the air bubbles out.

                                
There was an array of toppings for the chocolate bars. The good thing about making the bars was that you could use pretty much all of the toppings on them. However, as the room was a bit cold, one of my sets of bars had started to set so we weren’t sure if the toppings would stick. Jackie gave me a slab to make as well just in case the bars didn’t turn out ok. More chocolate is never a bad thing!
                         

Whilst the bars were cooling in the fridge, Jackie gave us some background into the world of chocolate. We were told about the origins, the different types of cocoa & the different forms it takes before you see it in the bar form you’re probably more used to. 
                                
                          Cocoa beans, cocoa plants, cocoa nibs & cocoa butter
The bars were taken out of the fridge once set & as you can see, they turned out not too bad!
                               

The class overall was a good experience, learning about what you’re making as well as being very hands on. At a bargain of £20 for the introductory class, it was very good value for money! The next class will be on the 9th of February, costing £30 per person or £50 for 2. Even if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the class would make a good present for any chocoholic!