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Homemade Food Gifts From the South American Kitchen

Food Gift Recipes


During the holidays, my parents' kitchen always overflows with wonderful homemade gifts. One friend always brings them baklava, and another sends a special chocolate nut fudge. We look forward to them every year. Homemade food gifts are always appreciated, and it is especially fun to bake something unusual, something that your recipient is unlikely to prepare themselves. South American cooking is rich with traditional holiday foods, as well as treats for giving all year round. Browse this list of ideas, and you might be inspired to start a new food gift tradition.

1. Almond Shortbread Alfajores

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These are the fancy, special-occasion cousins of the classic alfajor. Almond paste in the cookie dough gives them rich flavor. These caramel-filled cookies keep very well in cookie tins, so they're perfect if you need a food gift to send through the mail.

More alfajor recipes:
Classic Alfajores
Christmas Alfajor Cookies - Alfajores de Navidad Chocolate Alfajores
Lemon Lime Alfajores
Pecan Praline Alfajores

2. Brigadeiros - Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Truffles

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A list such as this would not be complete without something chocolate! These truffles look and taste decadent, but they are made with cocoa powder and condensed milk. You might think of them as budget-conscious truffles. They don't taste like Godiva, but they have a chocolately caramel flavor and a creamy texture that are all their own. Beware: they are quite addictive.

3. Panettone - Traditional Holiday Fruitcake

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This Italian-style holiday fruitcake has a rich brioche crumb and citrus flavors, and is widely enjoyed (and gifted) during Christmas in Latin America.

4. Homemade Dulce de Leche

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This thick caramel sauce is used as a filling for cakes and other confections throughout South America. Imported dulce de leche can be quite costly, while the homemade version tastes better, and is easy to make from inexpensive ingredients. It only requires a little patience and a lot of stirring. Present it in a pretty jar with a ribbon and a few suggestions on how to enjoy it, such as in between cake layers, or as a filling for churros, or as an ice cream topping.
Homemade Dulce de Leche, Step by Step
Chocolate Dulce de Leche

5. Passionfruit Mousse Cake

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This is a show-stopping cake, perfect when you need to bring a dessert to a holiday meal. It's delicious in the summer, but it brightens up a festive winter meal beautifully. It's made with frozen passionfruit pulp, available year round.

6. Cake Truffles With Dulce de Leche

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These sweet treats are made of a mixture of crumbled cake and dulce de leche is rolled into bite-size balls then dipped in chocolate or more frosting.

7. Passionfruit Lime Cookie Bars

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These luscious cookie bars may resemble ordinary lemon squares, but they are made with tart passion fruit and key lime juice instead of lemon.

8. Candied Marzipan Pecans

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These beautiful marzipan candies have a shiny caramel shell that gives a delicious crunch when you bite into them. These look difficult to make, but they are actually easy and quick. Just be careful not to get the hot caramel on your fingers - it stays hot for a while. These candies will not keep their hard candy coating for more than a day in humid climates.

9. Havannets - Argentinian Dulce de Leche Chocolate Conitos

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These unusual-looking cookies filled with dulce de leche are an Argentinian treat.

10. Dulce de Leche Fudge with Salted Pecans

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The super sweet caramel flavor of dulce de leche contrasts nicely with the salted nuts in this creamy fudge.
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