Cookie and Brownie Mix In a Jar Tips
Nothing says 'I love you' like the gift of food. And since cookies
are just about everyone's favorite treats, what better way to say 'I
love you' than with cookies? Well there is a better way, one that
will keep on giving and that includes that fresh-from-the-oven
cookie aroma (sometimes that's even better than eating the cookies)!
We're talking cookie mix in a jar, bag, box, tin, basket, bowl, pan
or any cute container your imagination can come up with!
Strata or Toss It In?
There are different schools of the mix-in-a-jar crowd, the geologic
school and the happy mixers. In the geologic school the ingredients
are all layered in a clear glass jar separately so that each layer
is distinct. This gives the container the look of strata (think of
the rocks in the Grand Canyon in Arizona) or 'sand art'. The happy
mixers toss everything together so that there is no need to go
through the trouble of layering, thus allowing for greater variety
in the choice of containers. A recipe from either school can easily
be adapted to become a recipe of the other. Keep in mind that if
you're going for the layered look, the ingredients need to have
different colors and textures. A sugar cookie mix made with white
sugar and white flour is not going to give you good strata!
Packing 'em In!
Most of the cookie and brownie varieties of mix-in-a-jar recipes
will fit into a 1-quart or 1-liter size wide mouth canning jar, as
long as you pack the ingredients in as tightly as possible. One
quart equals 4 cups; one liter equals just over 4 cups. Some of the
mix-in-a-jar recipes may be a bit confusing, for if you add up all
the cups it equals more than the maximum amount of four! This is
because the ingredients, if packed down properly in the jar, will
lose volume and thus be able to fit. Careful packing is the key.
After placing one ingredient in the jar, press it down with a
utensil with a fairly wide flat bottom (a long-handled tart tamper
works great). Do this after each and every ingredient, especially so
after you've added ingredients like brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts,
confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, shredded coconut and dried
fruits. Here are few tips for achieving an artfully layered strata:
White sugar will seep down into layered items like colored candies,
chocolate chips, nuts, etc. It's better to put white sugar below
All-purpose flour and confectioners' sugar also
have that seeping problem so place them below the same items as
The layers will stand out most if you pack the most contrasting
items next to each other.
Why be chained to just putting these great mixes in glass jars when
there are so many other options?! One way to get around the problem
of finding just the right jar is to use heavy-duty plastic bags.
Once you've filled the plastic bags with the mix, there's an endless
variety of ways you can fancy 'em up for gift giving.
Place them in a decorative tin or cookie jar.
Place them in a cloth-lined basket
Have your kids paint pictures on lightweight
cardboard gift containers (available at craft stores) or use
leftover oatmeal containers.
Place them in a beautiful mixing bowl, and if you want to be extra
nice, include a good quality wooden spoon.
Make it a whole baking kit! Along with the mix,
include a cookie sheet, measuring spoons, cups and timer! Students
away at college would sure love to receive this package in the mail!
Steps to Give!
Remember to include a card with the
instructions on how to finish the recipe. Hint: many of the recipes
call for 1/2 of an egg. How does one measure that? Simply beat the
egg and place it in a glass measuring cup and divide that amount in
half. Or you can just use a whole egg. This will just cause the
cookies to rise a little higher while baking. It's also a good idea
to include the amounts of the dry ingredients you used -- that way,
they can make the gift again and again!
Many people ask about the shelf life of these mixes. If stored in a
cool, dry and dark place, your gift can last for up to 6 months, as
long as all of the ingredients used to make it were fresh! Make sure
your baking powder and baking soda aren't going to expire anytime
soon. If the mix contains nuts, they should be used within 3 months.