DIY gifts in a jar: salted caramel hot chocolate recipe

Every day or so, I get notifications and e-mails about free or discounted books and given the big difference in price between, say, the original price of £2.05 or getting it for free, I’m not arguing with a free Kindle e-book! I tend to download fiction and have got so many, I’ve still to work through 66 pages…worth of titles. A useful book comes along once in a while though that you just can’t say no to. Gifts in Jars: Recipes for Easy, Delicious, Inexpensive DIY Gifts in Jars (Jar Recipes, Jar Gifts, Homemade Gifts) by Margaret Lowe was one of those books I just couldn’t help but download for myself.

Gifts in Jars: Recipes for Easy, Delicious, Inexpensive DIY Gifts in Jars (Jar Recipes, Jar Gifts, Homemade Gifts) by Margaret Lowe, £2.05 Kindle only

The great thing about making your own gift jars is you get to have half the fun, while the person you’re gifting it to gets to enjoy the other half! When you’re preparing it, the fun is in layering your ingredients just so, so that it creates a beautifully presented gift. Whoever is receiving your gift will be able to see the effort you’ve put into presenting it.

It’s also exciting to see the different layers of ingredients if you’re gifting a jar for baking. It’s not necessary to layer baking ingredients, you can pretty much use a jar for anything: snacks, chocolates, turn it into a snow globe, a travel or sewing kit or a time capsule!

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We were lucky to already have jars stored away. Every year when we get fruit from the allotment, the OH makes jam that lasts us for quite a while. Every now and then, we keep jars that are of a good size for more jam to come, yum! I decided to try one of the recipes from the Gifts in Jars e-book that we had most of the ingredients for. I’ve never tried it before but it sounded like an exotic and fun way of drinking a comforting beverage, so for a couple of friends’ birthdays, I made the salted caramel hot chocolate gift jar.

So here’s what you’ll need:

Salted caramel hot chocolate gift jar

Makes 1 pasta sauce jar gift or 2 jam jar gifts

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 cup dry milk powder
1 cup chewy caramel sweets (I bought Eclairs)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
100g chocolate chips (the recipe called for 10 oz – approx. 283g – but I don’t think it would really fit)
2 tbsp sea salt (the recipe called for 1-3 tbsp, but I went for the middle)

1. I decided to have all my ingredients prepared first. I put enough Eclairs in my measuring cup until I had 1 cup and cut up the sweets into small chunks. This will be quite hard, so be careful not to cut yourself!

2. Measure the cocoa powder and carefully spoon this to the bottom of your jar. If you’re using 2 jam jars, put 3/4 cup of cocoa into the jar.

3. Then measure the light brown sugar and make sure this is evenly spread on top of the cocoa powder. This part is important.

4. Using the back of your spoon, press down on the sugar so this packs the cocoa powder into the bottom of the jar. Trust me, I tried packing the cocoa powder without the sugar and it didn’t work because it’s too light. The weight of the sugar helps keep the powder compact.

5. Then measure the dry milk powder and pour on top of the brown sugar.

6. Measure then carefully pour the granulated sugar over the dry milk powder and repeat the process of packing down the milk powder.

7. Measure out salt and evenly spread then pack the salt on top of sugar.

8. Next add caramel sweets/Eclairs on top and sprinkle the chocolate chips last as the very top layer. I found doing it this way meant the chocolate chips didn’t get compressed then hidden in the sugar.

With the first jar I added the chocolate chips first and found compressing this meant the chocolate chips sunk into the salt

The first jar I tried to layer didn’t work out as planned, while trying to pack down the cocoa powder without the sugar, I ended up having flyaway powder creeping up the sides of the jar, so I ended up mixing up all the ingredients together as the recipe called for and decorated the top with chopped pieces of Eclair.

9. To decorate your jar, print off a label to the front to let the person know what’s inside. If you like, you can also add this instruction as a label or on a card to attach to your decorated jar at the end:

Stir in 3 tbsp of the mix into 1 cup of hot milk and enjoy!

10. To spruce your jar, find a small scrap of nice fabric to cover the top/lid and using a ribbon or elastic. You need to first hold it up against your jar top to make sure it’s bigger than the jar and draw around it on the wrong side of the fabric.

11. Now cut along the circles you’ve drawn to cover the lid.

12. To hold the fabric in place, you can use small elastic bands. This way, you can adjust the fabric to make sure the placement is exactly how you want it.

13. Next use a piece of ribbon or string (I used some length of knitting yarn) to hide the elastic band.

14. You’re almost done! All that’s left is to attach the labels.

Carefully align the labels how you want them, don’t press too hard until you’re happy with the placement.

They’re now ready to be gifted!

There’s no definitive way of how you should layer your ingredients. I only added the cocoa powder first because I wanted to check how much of the jar it would fill before I added the other ingredients. I’ve made two jars, one with all the ingredients mixed together as the recipe called for and one layered to show how it can be presented differently.

To add a bit of a fun touch to it, I chopped up some extra pieces of Eclair to decorate the top so it wasn’t just a jar of brown powder mix.

I would love to hear about and see photos of other people’s gift jar ideas! Have you made any jars that you gave away as gifts? What’s your favourite gift jar to give? Have a favourite recipe or tips on presentation to share?

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