Our gift-guide marathon continues. Don't know a baking-mix maven? Try our full complement of lists. —Ed.
Though from-scratch kitchen projects can be very rewarding (and delicious), sometimes the shortcuts are just too good. These throw-it-together mixes—ranging from cider donuts to funnel cake, brownies, and flan—make great gifts.
Stonewall Kitchen Eggnog Pancake and Waffle Mix: A breakfast flavored with all the ingredients traditionally found in the holiday drink—except the booze. Remedy that by serving them drizzled with maple syrup warmed in a saucepan with a tablespoon or two of bourbon or rum. Available online at stonewallkitchen.com, $5.99
Dean Jacobs Funnel Cake Kit Perfect for kids (or carnies). With two cake mixes, powdered sugar topping, a funnel cake pitcher, frying ring, tongs, and sugar shaker, it seems the only thing not included is the rollercoaster to ride before adequately digesting. Available online at legourmetchef.com, $14.99
Gingerhaus Ultimate Gingerbread House Kit: This includes gingerbread cookie mix, royal icing mix, and decorative candy. Cardboard panels provide a structural framework so you don't have to worry about your house collapsing under the weight of all those gumdrops. Available online at surlatable.com, $34.95
Fat Witch Brownie Mixes: New York bakery Fat Witch makes some mean brownies that have been touted everywhere from The New York Times to the Today Show and the pages of O Magazine—not to mention my own glowing review. The Snow Witch mix, flavored with white chocolate, is the most festive choice, but you can't go wrong with the classic brownies or blondies. Better yet, go for all three. Available online at fatwitch.com, $8.99
Louisburg Cider Donut Mix Set: This also includes a special donut pan so you can bake your donuts instead of frying them. That's right: these donuts are practically healthy. What more could you wish for? Available online at louisburgcidermill.com, $31.95
King Arthur Flour Panettone Mix: This sugary-sweet bread is a staple on Italian Christmas tables. Instead of buying a preservative-laden loaf at the grocery store, bake a fresh one using this nutty, fruity mix. Leftovers make excellent French toast. Available online at kingarthurflour.com, $12.95
Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate: Perfect for those who have been naughty and nice. The kick comes from a combination of allspice, cinnamon, ground ancho chili, and smoked chipotle chili. Available online at mrchocolate.com, $18
Despaña Flan and Paella Mixes: Whip up an authentic Spanish feast with these. The flans come in a variety of flavors including vanilla and caramel, and look for paellas with tuna, octopus, and an arresting black squid. Available online at despanabrandfoods.com, $3 to $8.75
Miss Muffet's Wine Cake Mixes Look for these in three varieties: Champagne, white wine, and chocolate red wine. Each requires slightly less than one cup of wine and bakes up into a decadent, moist bundt cake. Available online at missmuffets.com, $8.25
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!: With 160 All-New Recipes Anne Bryn's sixth book proves she's not just the cake mix doctor, she's the cake mix master. Beginning with a box of purchased cake mix, she creates fanciful desserts including a chocolate swirled cannoli cake, whoopie pies, angel food macaroons, and even a wedding cake. Available online at amazon.com, $10.85
About the author: Lucy Baker is a freelance food writer and the author of the forthcoming cookbook, The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets.
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