Ideas for somewhat-fancy, non-obvious birthday treats
February 9, 2018 3:36 PM   Subscribe

My brother's birthday is coming up and I would like to make some sort of edible treat for the occasion! Cake is already very well-covered (between family, friends and his wife he will be having cake all week - lucky guy) so I am looking for something else that is, ideally, shareable, keeps well, tastes good and is a little bit "special occasion".

I am willing to go a little out of the way to get ingredients/put some effort into making something fiddly, but I don't have a huge amount of money to spend on ingredients (so something requiring, say, fancy booze is probably out). I have access to a well-equipped kitchen this weekend, but I won't be seeing him until later in the week, so nothing perishable unless it can be made in the super-tiny galley kitchen in my apartment instead. No dietary restrictions.

Things that I have made in the past that have been well-received:
Homemade marshamallows
Candied citrus peels in chocolate
Fudge with stuff in it
Cookie assortment (8-12 cookies of 4 different varieties)
Cinnamon rolls

posted by btfreek to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Chocolate truffles are fun to make and you can roll them in different things (like powdered sugar, chopped nuts, or crushed toffee) to make them look extra fancy. (You can also add flavorings to the truffle and dip half in milk chocolate and half in dark)
posted by sexyrobot at 3:52 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you've got the chops for some homemade doughnuts, or some truffles.
posted by Marky at 3:52 PM on February 9, 2018

I'm not saying this is necessarily the best idea for your present situation, but I have a friend that gifts us with occasional batches of homemade beef jerky. He uses good quality beef, but otherwise nothing exotic or that he had a hand in raising or killing - just good beef, well seasoned and properly dried. Anyway, the stuff is *amazing* - so much better than the store bought stuff. It also keeps well.
posted by mosk at 4:06 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sponge toffee
Apple cider caramels
Homemade ice cream
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:49 PM on February 9, 2018

Chinese New Year is coming up, and I always look forward to eating some nian gao this time of year. If you have access to an Asian market, they are absolutely inundated with them right now, and I notice that they generally only come out this time of year. Note: perhaps I just don't look hard enough for them the rest of the year, but February is definitely the traditional month to eat them.

My mom prepares them really simply by just dousing each piece in egg and flour and then pan frying them, but I quickly googled some recipes and it looks like there are a lot of different ideas out there, including baking it or using shredded coconut, which sounds fun. Cinnamon or brown sugar might also be interesting to try.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 4:51 PM on February 9, 2018

Homemade caramels are so so so delicious. Macarons are impressive and fun to make.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:00 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rum balls! or Whiskey balls. You can buy airplane size bottles of liquor and there is enough in one or two of those to make an entire recipe. I have made both of these and they both turned out great. I will add that I did not use powdered sugar and they still rolled into balls and tasted awesome. They also get better the longer they sit but they never last more than a few days in my house.
posted by shmurley at 5:34 PM on February 9, 2018

Edible arrangements are kind of cheesy but delicious, "special occasion", and shareable. To make them at home you really just need cookie cutters and kabob skewers.
posted by emkelley at 5:43 PM on February 9, 2018

Bavarian Style Soft Pretzels
posted by bq at 5:50 PM on February 9, 2018

Fancy Florentine cookies

Give yourself plenty of time to make the recipe. The cookies are very easy to make and a batch makes a ton of them, but they’re delicate and easy to break when removing them from the parchment paper, so don’t rush or try to make them at the last minute or you’ll get frustrated.

But they taste great, they look really fancy even though they take little effort, and since the cookies don’t need to rise, you can use almond flour in place of the designated wheat flour and make them gluten-free, without any change to the quality of the result. They also freeze very well, so you can make them in advance and then serve them on the day of the event.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:04 PM on February 9, 2018

Biscotti is a little special & different, plus it keeps really well in a tin (months!) and it’s only slightly sweet so it might be a nice respite from all the cake? Bonus: it’s a breakfast sweet (with coffee/tea). I make lemon-almond; there are lots of available varieties.
posted by yawper at 6:31 PM on February 9, 2018

The fancy-pants version of the humble Twix bar: Millionaire's Shortbread (links to Cook's Illustrated technique, while recipe is linked at bottom of page; here's a simpler version)
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:03 PM on February 9, 2018

Cheese tuiles, nicely packaged is my go-to! Easiest, very delicious and appears very fancy.

In its simplest form, all you need is cheese, a grater and baking paper.

Grate cheese, place in small circles on the baking paper, bake at 375 for ~5 minutes (really watch this-- they can go from golden brown and crispy to acrid and burnt in an instant) and then cool them.

You can get fancy with seasoning if you're up for it. Just sprinkle on top of the cheese circles. A few combinations that I like: black pepper and parmesan, cheddar and hot paprika, manchego and nutmeg. Light hand with the last!

(You can even buy pre-shred if you don't feel like grating a huge mound of cheese although I find that the results aren't quite as good.)
posted by hellomiss at 12:09 AM on February 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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