For the contents of your Christmas hamper, begin with some of the best holiday recipes. Fruit cake - crammed full of fruits and nuts - rich and delicious, is a time-tested favorite. Christmas cookies - sugar coated pfeffernusse, crunchy springerle and anise drops. Traditional holiday treats will be eaten by the bowlful. Gourmet chocolates with a variety of tempting centers covered with rich, luscious chocolate can be featured in individually wrapped holiday gift boxes and positioned in your gift basket. The main dish can be a sugared and spiced cooked ham, ready to slice, garnished with pineapple and maraschino cherries, brightly holiday wrapped.
An excellent example of a Christmas hamper is as follows: Select an ordinary market basket measuring ten inches by fourteen, and two weeks before Christmas treat it to two coats of common white paint, following it, when perfectly dry, with one of white enamel; paint the handles and rim with a delicate green enamel, and after the gift basket is packed tie up the handles with a large bow of crimson ribbon, through which may be stuck, and resting on the lid, a handsome cluster of holly with its scarlet berries.
Another charming combination on the Christmas gift food hamper will be found in using dark green paint for the gift basket and white satin ribbon and mistletoe for the decoration. In packing the hamper great care must be exercised, so that they may reach their destination in perfect condition, placing the heaviest articles in the bottom and the lighter and more perishable ones on top, and so arranging the contents that there is no possibility of the edibles moving or shifting about; a festive card being added before the lid is closed, containing your Christmas wishes. Small baskets of this nature may be so easily and inexpensively arranged, and are so suggestive of the good cheer and true hospitality of the holiday season, that even the inexperienced need not hesitate to prepare them.
Candy for Food Hamper
One of the very best candies to make at home and include on our list of Christmas hamper ideas is Opera Fondant. This treat is capable of being varied in many more ways than can be given here. This will keep fresh for several weeks if carefully covered, either with waxed paper or in a glass jar. Chocolate bonbons are another universal favorite and not difficult to keep in cold weather.
Opera Fondant: Put two cupfuls of sugar and one cupful of heavy cream in saucepan, and stir until boiling point is reached. Add one-eighth teaspoonful cream of tartar and boil, stirring constantly, until syrup registers 238° F on the candy thermometer, or forms a soft ball when tried in cold water. Pour at once, without scraping out the saucepan, onto a marble slab, a large platter, or agate tray that has been slightly moistened with a piece of wet cheesecloth, and leave until cold. With a broad spatula scrape and turn the mixture over and over until it forms a ball, cover with a damp cloth and leave for half an hour. Then knead and mold with the hands until smooth, adding flavoring and coloring as desired, or pack in a crock, cover closely, and leave until wanted. In place of cream, milk or water with four tablespoonfuls of butter may be used, but the candy will not be as rich.