Beyond Fruitcake

Fabulous food-gift alternatives to the ubiquitous fruitcake.

beyond fruitcake

MARY CANDACE EVANS SUGGEST SOME FOOD GIFTS YOUR FRIENDS WILL ACTUALLY ENJOY.

 

Doc’s Old Kinda Cookies
Robert “Doc” Browning, athletic trainer and beloved teacher at St. Mark’s, baked fresh cookies from his family’s ginger cookie recipe for students in 1992. They were so popular that parents wanted to place orders. Find them now in Neiman’s Christmas Book ($80 will get you a fancy snowman jar full of cookies), or you can pay $20 per tin (40-plus cookies) by calling 214-528-DOCS.

 

Arbor Cakes
Margaret Thomas wanted dessert for her Thanksgiving dinner party to be perfect. So she practiced—a lot. Finally one cheesecake was so delicious that her family said she should “go pro.” Last year, she sold 75 giant, 10-inch cheesecakes. About $30 per cake at www.arborcakes.com (Psst: Margaret is now experimenting with whiskey cakes and mixed berry pies…yum.)

 

In The Dough
Vangela Cosby, who is Greek, started out baking baklava for her husband’s clients. They loved it so much that she got a professional kitchen. Her first client: Williams-Sonoma. Then Neimans came knocking. Many catalogs now carry her goodies, which range from homemade baklava, caramel brownies, and flan to pumpkin, chocolate chip, and pecan pies. Nab 24 delicious pieces of baklava for $25. 972-243-0322.

 

Texas Best Brittle
Carolyn New made her fabulous brittle for 30 years and gave it away as gifts to friends and teachers at Bradfield Elementary. Now Carolyn makes 500 pounds of incredibly delicious peanut brittle each year. $8 for one-half pound or $15 for a pound. 214-559-2262.

 

Trisha’s Almond Toffee 
Twelve years ago, Patty Golla’s brother Mike Russ, a senior broker with Goldman Sachs, took some of her delicious almond toffee to the office for fun. That’s when the orders started pouring in. In 1998, word of mouth had spread so much that she made more than 1,500 pounds of toffee from scratch—one pound at a time. Bags are a little cheaper, but $20 gets you one pound of brittle in a decorative tin. 972-712-4449.

Chocolate Chix
When Cheryl made mushroom-shaped chocolate meringues for friends and teachers at The Hockaday School, word spread as fast as they were eaten. In 1996, Neiman Marcus put Chocolate Chix in their stores and catalogs, and Mr. Stanley gave them as holiday gifts. Cheryl’s homemade goodies are everywhere; find them at Eatzi’s ($16 for six ounces), Cookworks, Translations, and—of course—Neimans ($27 for 12 ounces). Call 214-744-2442 for a store near you.

 

Betty Rae’s Bread & Butter Pickles
“Everyone just always loved my bread and butter pickles,” says Betty Rae Worley. Betty Rae started making pickles about 30 years ago. Back then she even grew her own vegetables. “The secret is the onions and spices,” she says, “but I won’t tell you the recipe!” You can buy them by the jar, a mere $6.50 for 16 ounces of crunchy goodness. For now, order a case and she’ll drive it to your house for free! 972-235-0689.

 

Two Neighbors Gourmet Cookie Mix
Kay Wyma and her next-door neighbor Lynn Stocker (former owner of Maudee’s on Lovers Lane, which also sells the cookie mixes) have been bagging cookie ingredients—eight flavors of dry cookie mix and four brownie mixes—for three years. Two Neighbors also offers
a cookie-mix-of-the-month club, which can be mailed anywhere. Bags are $8. Jars are $13. 214-739-3296.

 

Carmie’s Kitchen
It started in 1989 with an incredible Mexican dip called Mañana that Carmie Randack made for a craft bazaar. Five years ago, she and husband J.R. bought a 3,100-square-foot building in Wylie, where they now churn out 50 products including 18 dips, two dried salsa mixes (just add fresh tomatoes), seven bread mixes, two corn breads, and six soup mixes. They also make gift baskets. Products range from $2.75 for a single mix packet to $15. 800-337-1337.

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