I imagine it must be difficult this time of year if you’re following a gluten-free diet.  Everything from those ever-present cookies and cakes to stuffing, gravy thickened with flour and even gingerbread houses (if you’re apt to sneak a bite).

I have a friend who has celiac disease, so it’s hard for her to enjoy the traditional foods at Christmastime.  I’m sure by now she’s used to it and able to manage what she can and can’t eat, however I wanted to give her a sweet treat.  Rather than creating an entire batch of gluten-free cookies, I thought a gift in a jar would be a great way for her to make a delicious gluten-free treat at anytime.

I’ve made her a flourless chocolate cake in the past, which was raved about by everyone at the table, even the kids.  So I decided to give her the mix in a jar. She’d just need to add the liquid ingredients and bake.  I like giving jar gifts because after the holidays, you still have something left to enjoy when all the other sweets are gone, even if it’s in July.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX IN A JAR

  • 1 quart Mason jar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In the jar, layer the the cocoa powder and espresso, then the sugars.  Add a circle of wax paper to the top of this layer, then add the chocolate chips on top.  On a recipe card, write the following instructions:

Ingredients needed: 1 stick unsalted butter | 3 large eggs | 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8″ cake or tart pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Add sugars and stir until dissolved.  Remove pan from heat and whisk in eggs one at a time.  Sift in the cocoa and whisk until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and bake 25 minutes.  The cake’s center should be firm, but be careful not to overbake.  Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate. Sift with powdered sugar, if desired.

If you’re looking for other gluten-free treats to give or enjoy at the holidays, you could make a batch of Chex Mix (just omit the Wheat Chex), homemade chai tea mix, or a homemade cocoa mix.  This is my go-to recipe for cocoa mix in a jar; it looks pretty in a Mason jar tied with a ribbon.

HOMEMADE HOT COCOA MIX

  • 8 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa (get the best you can find)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • (2 tbsp cinnamon, optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, using a spoon and then a whisk. Scoop into containers or bags. To make cocoa, use 3-4 tablespoons per cup of boiling water or hot milk. Makes 40 cups of cocoa: I tend to get about  4 cups of mix into one quart sized jar.

 

Another chocolate item that would make a great gift is something I make all the time for my kids–homemade chocolate syrup.

syrup

It’s great for stirring into chocolate milk or drizzling over ice cream, and it’s free of high fructose corn syrup.

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE SYRUP

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium sized pot, whisk together the sugar and cocoa to get out all the lumps.  Add the water and salt and cook on medium heat.  Be sure to stir the pot often, and let the mixture boil.  Watch that it doesn’t boil over though, and if the bubbles are too much, lower the heat a bit.  Continue stirring until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat, let cool for 10 minutes, then add the vanilla and stir.  Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to a month.

Here is one more idea for a gluten-free gift.  I make this nearly every year and have shared the recipe with lots of people (at their request).

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARK

This recipe is SO easy, and often has people asking for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 bags)
  • 36 oz. white chocolate chips (2 bags)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint oil or extract
  • 2 boxes of candy canes, crushed
  • aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • cooking spray
  • large baking pan (mine was 12″x18″)
  • Double boiler (or a 2 bowls that can fit over a pot of simmering water)

Line your baking pan with foil or parchment, then spray with cooking spray or rub with butter. 

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Heat your double boiler or pot of water until it’s simmering,

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then add the bags of chocolate chips. 

December 6, 2010 021Alternatively, you could melt your chocolate in the microwave for a few minutes, making sure to stir a few times until it’s fully melted but not bubbling.

Stir until the chocolate has melted, then spread evenly onto your pan.

choc

With another clean bowl (or reuse the chocolate one, just make sure to clean it), melt the white chocolate chips in the same way.  When melted, remove from heat and stir in half of the crushed candy canes and peppermint oil.  Spread onto the cooled chocolate.

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Sprinkle the rest of the candy canes on the top.

candy cane

Allow to cool completely (popping it into the freezer for 15 minutes works well), then cut with a chef’s knife (or break carefully with your hands) into roughly 3″ pieces. 

bark

Package into a pretty tin and give to friends. Be sure to keep some for yourself too!

candytin

I wish you and your family a very happy, gluten-free Christmas and New Year!  Enjoy your time in the kitchen this holiday season!

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