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Homemade Christmas Gifts with Saltrock Ambassador Claire Smail

In the build-up to Christmas, we had a catch up with Saltrock ambassador and Longboarding Champion Claire Smail who, when she isn't catching waves, loves to make her own crafts and gifts. We thought we would get a few of her ideas of perfect homemade gifts for Christmas and share them with you all, so here are a few easy to prepare, edible Christmas gift ideas that Claire loves to make.

COOKIE MIX IN A JAR

A great gift idea is to measure out and put together cookie and/or gingerbread mixes into a jar, ready for people to make up their own batches.

Recipe for double choc-chip cookies

 You will need…

1L Jar
225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of coco powder
250g soft dark brown sugar
100g dark choc chips
100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks

To finish the mixture 1 egg and 125g of softened butter will need to be added when the cookies are made.

How to make…

Firstly, wash and dry the jar, then measure out all the dry ingredients and place into separate bowls.
Now using a spoon add half the flour and baking powder to the bottom of the jar, level it out before adding half the sugar. Press the sugar down lightly before repeating the process with the remaining flour, sugar and coco powder.  Finish by adding a layer of choc chips and then white choc chunks.
Once the jar is tightly fastened you can decorate it by adding a square piece of brown paper or Christmas paper to the top and decorate it with ribbon or string.  Lastly don’t forget to make a little label explaining what ingredients will still need to be added and how to make and bake the cookies (see below for an example).

Instructions to include…

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line two baking trays.
Remove the chocolate and place to one side.
Add all ingredients (including 1 egg and 125g of butter) into a large mixing bowl and bring together into a smooth dough using an electric mixer.
Now put a tablespoons worth of mixture onto the baking tray, try to keep each cookie about 4-5cm away from the others.
Bake in the oven for 15-20minutes, until golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the baking tray.

GINGERBREAD DECORATIONS

These Gingerbread Decorations are great for hanging on the tree, or as gifts in little jars to give to your friends and family.

You will need…

350g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground mixed spices
100g butter or margarine
175g soft brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
Writing icing

How to make…

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
Line or grease two baking trays.
Sieve the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spices into a large mixing bowl.
Cut the butter or margarine into small cubes and then add to the mixing bowl. Now use your fingertip to rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it looks likes fine breadcrumbs.
Break the egg into the bowl and add the golden syrup, then using one hand to hold the bowl, use your other to mix the ingredients together until to comes together into a smooth dough.
Leave to chill for 15min in the fridge.
Lightly flour a clean surface before rolling out your dough until it is about 5mm thick and then comes the fun part of cutting out your ginger bread. 

To cut out your gingerbread you can use any shape cutter, I have used flip flop, stars, circles, surfboard and caravan shapes for my beach themed Christmas biscuits.  Don’t forget to use a skewer to make a small hole at the top (so you can put ribbon through the biscuits if you want to hang them on the tree).

Place the gingerbread on the baking trays and then bake for 12-15minutes, until they turn a dark golden colour.

Once baked, remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool.  When they are completely cold you can then decorate them with writing icing, sweets, chocolate chips or even melted drizzled chocolate.

You can even thread ribbons through the holes you added earlier in the process, so that they can be hung up on the tree as Christmas decorations.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

If baking isn't your thing, why not try and prepare a gift of chocolate truffles instead? These take very little cooking and look great presented in a simple jam jar or sweets bag.

You will need...

300g quality dark chocolate
300ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
To flavour and coat you might want to include some of these; desiccated coconut, vanilla essence, orange essence, coco powder, white chocolate or your choice of liqueurs.

How to make ...

Add the cream and butter to a pan and slowly heat until the butter has melted and the cream just starts to simmer at the edges.
Take the pan off the heat and add in the dark chocolate (make sure it is broken into small pieces at this stage). Mix together until the chocolate is melted and and combined into a smooth glossy mixture.
Divide the mixture between as many bowls as you want different flavours.
Add your essence, extracts or liqueurs to each batch and mix in.
Now leave to cool for up to four hours and allow the mixture to set.
Once set, prepare each truffle coating in a seperate bowl. I chose coconut and coco powder.
Place a teaspoon of truffle mixture into one of the bowls of coatings and cover. Roll the truffle once in your palm to ensure it is round and fully covered before putting them on a clean plate.
Once you have divided, coated and rolled all the truffles in this way you need to put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

To finish off, wrap, jar or place all your truffles in air-tight containers and keep in the fridge until you're ready to eat them or give them away.
The truffles should be eaten within 3 days, if you can wait that long!

CHRISTMAS CARD GIFT BOX

Last year I was given the loveliest little Christmas gift that was presented in the most wonderful box made from a recycled Christmas card. I liked the idea so much that I kept some of my cards from last year ready to make some myself. They are perfect for putting the chocolate truffles or biscuits in.

You will need...

Medium/Large Christmas Cards (ideally square ones)
Glue (PVA or something stronger but not toxic)
Scissors
Ruler
Pencil
Baking Paper

How to make...

If your card is rectangular, cut it into a square.
Cut your card down the fold, to give you the top and bottom of each box.
On the reverse of the front of the card, measure 2.5cm down from each edge to make the sides of the box, and mark with an X.
On the reverse of the back of the card, measure 2.75cm down from each edge to make the sides of the box, and mark with an X.
On the front card, cut in along the lines you have marked with an X. Repeat on the back card.
 

Now use your ruler to fold along each line - your card should now start to look more like a box.
To finish, glue each overlapping corner to the inside sides of the front and back of the cards.
Then leave to dry.

Massive thank you to Tom and the guys at Stoned for letting us take these photos in their restaurant, which has an amazing wood-fired oven they use to cook some delicious pizzas. Take a look at their website here - http://www.stoned.org.uk/