Things an edible gift will always do: warm hearts, fill bellies, fuel holiday travel, get shared, spark conversation, inspire your loved ones to start making their own granola (or hot sauce or challah or macaroons), and disappear, leaving only happy memories.
Here are 28 Genius Recipes—along with mostly handy gifting ideas and intel—that have been passed from cook to cook for years and, in some cases, decades. Yes, three of them are chocolate cakes, but each one is perfect for a different sort of gifting experience. I've provided color commentary.
Make an XXL batch, package it in cute jars for all your coworkers or cousins, and include the recipe—there will be rabid freak fans converts.
These French almond cookies defy all the perils of cross-country shipping, and seem to only get better a few days out.
No professional equipment required to be total inspiration to those around you—extra thoughtful points for wrapping in a reusable Bee's Wrap (a.k.a. bread fresher-keeper).
The chocolate cake you make for vegans (they'll be so happy!) or when there is truly nothing in your fridge (you'll be so happy!).
Give with a side jar of jam (or honey!), or wrap in a suggestive tea towel.
This cake will collapse variously in the middle or to one side or another, but that is just because it is so unremittingly squidgy. Make this one for the people who will appreciate its charms.
This has beets in it! And crème fraîche on top! It's the chocolate cake for the cool kids.
The vanilla is the key—our former Managing Editor Brette Warshaw skips measuring and just upends the bottle. She would also recommend you underbake and freeze these. p.s. Can you imagine unwrapping these lidded, nesting mixing bowls to find blondies hidden in the innermost bowl?
Look out, this one's feisty (but it keeps for up to a month, so tell them to drink it in small doses).
Because you can't gift a hug.
Yes, that lovely peekaboo pie pan is in our Shop and will be loved long after the tart is gone.
Be sure to tell them to keep it in the fridge, but eat it warm, so the butter stays loose—because that's how Judy Rodgers wanted it.
The tipping point between chewy chocolate chip and crisp chocolate shortbread, and a soothing name, too.
Give this harissa in tiny jars to all your friends, and tell them all the ways they can use it up in a week-ish: eggs, pasta, soup, grilled cheese, beans, chicken, roasted squash, grain salads, ___, ___, ___.
Give the gift of more flavorful soups, stews, risottos, grains... (and of not having to scrutinize the ingredients on a box of broth for a looong time).
Shirley Temples all around! Pack up the grenadine (or the vegetable bouillon or green harissa above) in reusable mason jars. They will not be returned.
When in doubt.
Because sometimes people get tired of cookies and candy and nog and would really prefer salt and pepper and cheese.
Oh, you like these studly gluten-free macaroons? How about Alice Medrich's genius book on baking with alternative grains to go with them?
Gluten-free for those who want it, and a hearty, chewy, craggly, delicious slice of toast to the rest of us.
Double-roasted, for topping toast and filling hand-pies and eating with spoons.
There is a secret ingredient and I'm not telling you what it is!
The only gift that can make a bottle of Champagne look even more thoughtful (stowing them in cork canisters doesn't hurt, either).
Flawless bran muffins might not sound holiday-appropriate, but everyone who can't run on sugar and caffeine will appreciate them.
Comes with the fun "2 ingredients—guess what they are!" game.
Secretly vegan, not secretly the best chocolate chip cookie I've tried.
Hot sauce with one step (blend) that you don't need to source fresh chiles for—it comes straight out of the pantry.
More festive than anything with a bow.
Every week, Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius. Got one for her—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it her way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected].