Layers or All Mixed Up
In some recipes, the ingredients are all layered in a clear glass jar so that each layer is distinct, giving it the look of "sand art." If you're going for this 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 show up well as layers!
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 wide-mouth canning jar, as long as you pack the ingredients in as tightly as possible.
- 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 especially well). Do this after each ingredient, especially after adding things like brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, and dried fruits.
- White sugar will seep down into layered items like colored candies, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. It's better to put white sugar below these ingredients.
- All-purpose flour and confectioners' sugar also have the same seeping problem, so put them on the bottom, too.
- The layers will stand out most if you pack the highly contrasting items next to each other.
There are other options besides glass jars, like heavy-duty plastic freezer bags. Once you've filled the plastic bags with the mix, there are a variety of ways you can fancy 'em up for gift-giving:
- Place them in a decorative tin or cookie jar
- Package 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: include a cookie sheet, measuring spoons, cups, and a timer. College students love to receive this package in the mail!
Steps to Give
Remember to include a card listing the recipe's ingredients and instructions.
- Hint: many of the recipes call for half 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 use a whole egg--this will just cause the cookies to rise a little higher while baking and be a little more cake-like.
- If you include the recipe, your recipient can make the gift again and again!
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, it should be used within 3 months.