Food Gifts With a DIY Twist

These store-bought snacks only look expensive thanks to HGTV Magazine ’s yummy add-ons and adorable packaging.

Food styled by Carrie Purcell, props styled by Elizabeth MacLennan, recipes by Barbara Chernetz

Orange-Glazed Pound Cake

Orange-Glazed Pound Cake

Orange-Glazed Pound Cake

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes 1 cake

  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 store-bought pound cake
  • Strips of orange zest, for topping

1. Whisk the sugar, orange juice, and grated orange zest in a small bowl until smooth.

2. Drizzle the glaze over the pound cake, then immediately top with the strips of orange zest.

Wrap it up: Place the cake in a paper loaf pan. Cut a rectangle out of pink glassine, wrap it around the loaf pan, and tape it to the bottom. Repeat with a slightly narrower rectangle cut out of striped scrapbook paper. Wrap yarn over the paper multiple times and tie in a bow. Stamp “Yum!” on a disposable knife and slide it under the yarn.

Fruit Syrups

Fruit Syrups

Fruit Syrups

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes about 2 cups

Blueberry Lemon Syrup

  • 4 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries, thawed
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Puree the blueberries in a food processor until smooth, then press through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a spoon to strain.

2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice. Pour into a bottle and refrigerate.

Peach Vanilla Syrup

  • 4 cups frozen unsweetened peaches, thawed
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Puree the peaches in a food processor until smooth, then press through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a spoon to strain.

2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into a bottle and refrigerate.

Wrap it up: Print images of the syrup ingredients onto computer paper and cut them out. Adhere to the front of screw-top syrup bottles with glossy Mod Podge. Cut a gift tag out of scrapbook paper and tie it around the bottle’s neck with ribbon.

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes 12 sandwich cookies

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 16 .5-ounce package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 12 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Stir the flour into the cookie dough in a medium bowl until well combined.

3. Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut out 24 cookies with a 2 ½-inch fluted round cookie cutter. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cut out the centers of half of the cookies with a 1-inch round cookie cutter.

5. Bake until the cookies are lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool 1 minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Spread 1 tablespoon jam on each whole cookie. Top with a cutout cookie. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Wrap it up: Remove the caps from both ends of a plastic tube. Adhere round stickers that you’ve cut in half along the tube’s edges to create a scalloped design. For the tag, trace the outside of the fluted cookie cutter onto scrapbook paper. Cut it out and punch a hole at the top, then write the treat’s name on it. Hot-glue the edges of the cookie cutter to the paper. Tie it around the tube with ribbon. Replace the bottom cap and fill the tube with cookies, placing a piece of pink glassine or wax paper cut with a scallop paper punch between each one. Replace the top cap. 

Sugar + Spice Pecans

Sugar and Spice Pecans

Sugar and Spice Pecans

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes 3 cups

  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 cups unsalted pecan halves

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Mix the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.

3. Whisk the egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the pecans, stirring with a fork to coat evenly. Sprinkle on the sugar mixture, tossing the nuts to coat.

4. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, stirring once. Loosen the nuts on the baking sheet; let cool completely.

5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Paper Cone Diagram

Paper Cone Diagram

Wrap it up: Cut scrapbook paper into a kite shape. Place it facedown, with the narrower point at the top (A). Fold the paper into a cone (B); seal with double-sided tape (C). Punch a circle out of another piece of paper and write the treat’s name on it. Fill the cone with nuts, close the top flap (D), then tape the circle on top to seal.

Cranberry-Lime Vodka

Cranberry Lime Vodka

Cranberry Lime Vodka

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes 3 cups

  • 3 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups vodka
  • Strips of lime zest from 1 lime

1. Heat 3 cups of the cranberries, the sugar, and the lime juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

2. Add the strips of lime zest to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, then pour in the vodka. Spoon the cooled cranberry mixture into the jar. Put the lid on the jar and let the mixture macerate in the refrigerator at least one day or up to a week.

3. When you’re ready to package it, strain vodka througha sieve into bottles with tight-fitting lids. Add the remaining ½ cup of fresh cranberries.

Wrap it up: Put a strip of carpet tape (available at hardware stores) around the neck of each bottle, then wrap a piece of thin rope around it. Secure the rope’s ends with glue. Using letter stickers, spell out bottoms up on coasters, then punch holes at the top and tie one to each bottle with ribbon.

Dipped Pretzels

Sprinkle-Dipped Pretzels

Sprinkle-Dipped Pretzels

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

Makes 24 pretzels

  • 1 16-ounce bag large pretzels
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces white chocolate
  • Nonpareils in bright colors

1. Microwave the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and stir until smooth.

2. Dip the top half of each pretzel into the melted chocolate, one at a time, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Immediately spoon nonpareils over the chocolate. Let sit 1 to 2 minutes on a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Repeat with the white chocolate, but microwave it on medium for 1½ minutes.

3. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Until you package them, store in a tightly sealed container with wax paper between the layers at room temperature for up to one week.

Wrap it up: Stack the pretzels inside a compartmentalized bakery box. Stick three strips of glitter tape to the bottom of a tag and write the treat’s name above the tape. Tie a wired ribbon around the box, then string a cord through the tag and tie it to the ribbon

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