A long while ago, in October I instagramed this photo:
I did follow through with my plan and I made homemade vanilla extract and cookie jars for my friends. The vanilla was simple but time intensive so you do need to plan ahead for it. The cookies were easy to put together and hopefully a nice treat for people who don’t like to measure everything when they are baking. Here is the finished product:
I didn’t want to post about these before Christmas because it would spoil the surprise, but how perfect would these be for a Valentine’s gift?! First let me tell you about the vanilla. I researched this quite a bit because I was amazed you could make your own vanilla extract. There are exactly 2 ingredients necessary for this creation: vanilla beans and vodka! I ordered the beans off Amazon. I planned to use Quart sized Ball jars for the cookies so I grabbed two of them to make the vanilla in. The first step is to slice the beans lengthwise and then in half. I had a total of 25 beans. I will warn you that this process is a bit sticky and awkward since the beans have a tough skin. After a few beans, I really got the hang of it and it became easier.
I placed have the beans in one jar and then started pouring in the vodka. Once each jar was filled, I tightened the lids and placed them in a cool dark place. I bottled on October 26th so there was plenty of time between then and Christmas for the vodka to take in the vanilla flavor. Each week I would give the jars a good shake so the flavor would be stronger. When Christmas was pretty close I decided to bottle the vanilla. I struggled with how to strain the beans, but in the end I used my metal colander and coffee filters. Once it was filtered, I used a funnel to pour the vanilla extract into the amber bottles and added a bean to each bottle to increase flavor further.
Next piece of my handmade gift is the cookie jars. The idea here is that each ingredient for a cookie recipe is premeasured and included so all someone has to do is mix the contents of the jar with some butter, egg, and vanilla and their cookies are ready to go in the oven! The hardest part was actually choosing a cookie recipe. I wanted to choose something I would want to eat so when I found the Christmas Crunch Cookie recipe and the only thing I disliked was white chocolate chips, I decided to go with it. I simply switched that part of the recipe to milk chocolate chips instead. The only tip I have here is to make sure to tamp down all the ingredients after you add them to the jar. You can see in the picture below I used an ice cream scoop. You can also see in the picture next to it, how much higher the flour is when I didn’t tamp it down. It was annoying to do, but all the ingredients won’t all fit if you don’t take that step.
Last thing was the presentation of the jar. Since the ribbon on the tags I bought were too short, I just taped the ribbon to the top of the jar’s lid. Then I decided to use red tissue paper to cover the taped top of the jar. I started by cutting two layers of tissue into squares. Then I screwed the lid on to make indentation in the tissue, removed the lid, cut out the new shape of the tissue and screwed the lid back on. I think they turned out pretty cute! Lastly, I printed the recipe and taped it to my Joy Tag.
If you are interested in this particular cookie recipe, I found it through Pinterest and it linked me to Katy & Abby’s blog- Blue Eyed Bakers. Here is the recipe. Remember I changed the white chocolate chips to milk chocolate!
|Christmas Crunch Cookies:
The Jar Contains:
¼ cup sugar
½ cup M&Ms
|½ packed brown sugar||½ cup rolled oats|
|1 ½ cups flour||½ cup rice krispies|
|¾ tsp baking soda||½ cup chocolate chips|
|¼ tsp baking powder|
Beat together ½ cup butter, ½ tsp vanilla extract, and 1 egg in a large bowl.
Add the contents of the jar and stir until well mixed (the dough will be crumbly).
Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°
for 10-12 minutes until puffed and golden.