DIY Christmas Gift Project: Cookie, Muffin and Bar in a Jar Mixes

What unique gift can you give the family who likes to cook? This year, I am making each family member an individualized “Cookie Mix, Muffin or Bar in a Jar Mix.” The basic premise is to include the dry ingredients for the dessert in the jar. The “chef” provides the eggs, butter, vanilla extract etc; which are added to the mix and baked. Of course, you must include the instructions on how to prepare the baked desserts. Sort of like a boxed cake or brownie mix but much more creative (and homemade). The sky is the limit on what recipes can be adapted for this DIY Project and what ingredients can be added. Hey, you can’t find a store -purchased box mix for Matcha Muffins. Here is a batch of my “Macha Muffins with Cranberries” made from my “Jar Mix.” Not only is this a creative gift, but the muffins are extremely tasty, too.

The only difficult question is when and how do you stop with this project. The answer, in my case, was “time.” I needed to get these special gifts put in the mail to get to their overseas destination in time for Christmas. My final result was four mixes and recipes (one mix took two jars). These included a cookie, a muffin, a bar (brownie) and a gooey treat. In the process, I did alot of experimenting and adjustments to make sure that everything fit in the jars and also baked properly.

A note about jars

Although many magazines show cookie and baking mixes placed into 1-quart (four cup or 32 ounce) canning jars, I decided to re-use some slightly smaller jars for my project which were a little more stylish. I adjusted the recipe ingredients to fit into these jars. Two jars were 24-oz (three cup) pickled okra jars. A note of caution here is to wash the jars thoroughly to remove any remnants of pickled okra flavor and odor. The rectangular jar below is an 1-pint (two cup or 16-ounce) coffee jar. The larger jar in the back in the above photo is a 32-ounce (four cup) coffee jar. I ran out of room in my brownie mix jar and included marshmallows and chocolate chips a smaller 8-oz jar.

If the jar you use for the mix is too large; then fill the remainder up with additional chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, if appropriate. Or, add miniature marshmallows and label these as “packing material.” In no instance should you add non-edible ingredients to the mix.

In several jar mixes, including the one above, I wrapped the chocolate chips or M&M’s in plastic wrap and tied them. This layer needs to be removed separately from the crumbs. I also thought it might also help these ingredients travel better overseas. In the other mixes, wrapping individual ingredients in plastic wrap for local use is not necessary.

A note about ingredients

For these mixes, I adjusted the recipes to use self-rising flour rather than all-purpose flour and leavening agents. Self-rising flour works great in these mixes and you don’t have to worry if the dessert will bake properly. I also included cultured buttermilk powder in several of the mixes. This way the receiving “chef” doesn’t have to purchase fresh milk to make these desserts.

What, no nuts? I did not include nuts in any of these recipes. First, they didn’t fit in the jars. Plus, I am mot sure that young children appreciate nuts in baked goods as much as the parents. The receiving family can always add nuts to the recipes as they like when preparing these mixes. This is a batch of my “Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies” along with chef-supplied ingredients and a jar of the mix.

Let’s look at my four mixes:

1. Chocolate Kiss Cookies

I thought that the little girl in the family might like a colorful cookie. And so I concocted “Chocolate Kiss Cookies” which turned out to be a gooey treat.

These cookies require just a few ingredients. (I sent along sweetened condensed milk; the family needs to supply only the butter or Crisco baking shortening for this recipe.) To fashion this mix, I rolled and crushed the Oreo Thins to make crumbs. (Remove the center filling first and discard.) You will need to use some pressure on the rolling pin to crush these cookies. This is the bottom layer of the jar mix. Then I added in miniature M&M baking bits and Hershey’s Kisses to make a colorful mix

The funnel is a wide-mouthed funnel which I use for canning and home preserving. It can be found wherever you locate canning jars and supplies. (Handy if you are picking up canning jars for this project.)

To make the cookies. mix the crushed oreo cookies with some melted butter and bake. Then place a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk onto the crust in each cookie in the tin. Then pile on miniature M&M’s and bake again. Isn’t baking fun! I hope the parents think so.

After baking, let the cookies cool slightly. Then put a Hershey’s kiss in the center of each cookie.

These cookies need to cool completely before trying to remove them from the cookie tin. Gooey and sweet is how to describe these cookies.

2. Double Chocolate Brownies with Marshmallows

This mix is also intended for a little girl in the family. Who doesn’t like chocolate? So “double chocolate” must be really good. Here are the ingredients for this mix. The mix includes both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. For a fun touch, sprinkle on miniature marshmallows at the end of baking for a whimsical topping. And, I have to brag about these brownies, too. They are delicious.

3. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This is a great cookie. Just to dump the contents of the jar mix into a large bowl containing egg, melted butter, 1-2 Tbsp water and vanilla extract (supplied by the chef). How easy is that, to make a cookie? I like the flavors of oatmeal and chocolate mixed together. I used steel oats which make a crunchy cookie full of oatmeal flavor.

For this mix, I wrapped the miniature chocolate chips and oatmeal in plastic wrap first. I thought it might help ingredients from shifting during during their overseas trip. This is not necessary for local travel and I actually do not recommend adding non-food items of any sort to the mixes. Use the handle end of a spoon or a wooden spatula to pack the ingredients into the jar.

4. Matcha Muffins with Cranberries

The last mix which I devised is a muffin mix with green tea (matcha tea) and dried cranberries. Rather than opening the package of matcha tea, I just sent along the entire bag. That way the family can enjoy matcha tea for breakfast along with their muffins! For this jar mix, I included cultured buttermilk powder in the mix, so the recipe does not include fresh milk. Ground ginger and cranberries add to the festive flavor and color of these muffins. The sugar is turbindo sugar which is a “raw” sugar and gives a slight molasses taste.

Alternatively, you could use several Lipton Matcha tea bags, opening four tea bags and adding to the mix, rather than sending along an entire container of Matcha green tea powder.

Muffins are very simple to make; this recipe is a one-bowl mix. Simply combine melted butter, an egg and water in a large bowl. Dump in the contents of the “Jar Mix.” Stir just until the dry ingredients are mixed in — don’t over stir — there will be lumps remaining.

Put about 1/4 cup of mix into each muffin liner in a standard-size muffin tin. (Just enough batter to fill all the 12 muffin liners!) Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Don’t overbake. Using self-rising flour works great; these muffins “popped up.” They are moist and full of “herb” flavor (from the tea).

And the baked muffins themselves make nice treats to share with neighbors and friends!

I hope that my family enjoys these “dump into a bowl and stir” mixes from my “Jar Mixes.” Can’t wait to see the results. I also hope that this gives you some ideas for creative Christmas gifts this year. Everybody loves the special touch of a homemade gift. Happy Holidays!

Here are PDF files for the preparation instructions for each mix. Download and attach to the jars before sending to their recipient. The recipes for the four mixes follow.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Jar Mix

  • Servings: 24 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup steel oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup miniature milk chocolate chips

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Using a wide-mouth funnel, pour self-rising flour into a 24-ounce jar. Shake to level out.
  2. Using funnel, carefully layer in brown sugar.
  3. Place steel oats in large piece of saran wrap, twist, removing air; making bundle fits in jar. Tie and place in jar.
  4. Place miniature chocolate chips in another piece of saran wrap, twist, removing air; making sure bundle fits in jar. Tie and place in jar as top layer.
  5. Place lid on jar and decorate jar. Don’t forget to include baking instructions.

Chocolate Kiss Cookie Jar Mix

  • Servings: 12 cookies (baked in miniature muffin tin)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 20 Thin Oreo cookies, crushed finely to make 5/8 cup crumbs
  • 1/3 cup miniature M&M Baking Morsels
  • 12 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses (Plus a few extra, for good measure!)

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Remove the center filling from the Thin Oreo Cookies and place cookies in gallon Zip Lock bag. Crush, using rolling pin. Apply pressure to crush thinly. Using wide mouth funnel, pour crushed cookies in a 16-ounce jar.
  2. Wrap miniature M&M baking morsels in Saran Wrap, twisting to remove air; making sure package will fit in jar. Tie and place in jar.
  3. Add 12 to 15 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses to jar for top layer.
  4. If desired, place 12 miniature muffin tin liners on top.
  5. Add lid and decorate jar. Don’t forget to tie on baking instructions.

NOTE: Include a jar of Sweetened Condensed Milk with package.

Double Chocolate Brownie Jar Mix with Marshmallows

  • Servings: 16 brownies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup dried powdered buttermilk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Using wide mouth funnel, pour sugar into In 32 oz jar or a 40 oz jar, if available.
  2. Carefully layer on unsweetened cocoa powder.
  3. Mix self-rising flour and dried powdered buttermilk. Layer onto cocoa powder, using funnel.
  4. Wrap half the chocolate chips in Saran Wrap, twisting to remove air and making sure package will fit in jar. Tie and place in 32 oz jar. (If using 40 oz jar, wrap all the chocolate chips in Saran Wrap and place in jar.)
  5. Add second half of chocolate chips, wrapped in Saran Wrap in a separate 8 oz jar.
  6. Add the miniature marshmallows to second 8 oz jar. (If using 40 oz jar, add miniature marshmallows to it.)
  7. Add lid and decorate jar. Don’t forget to tie on baking instructions.

Matcha Muffin with Cranberries Jar Mix

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup dried buttermilk powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp ground, loose leave matcha tea or green tea
  •  3/4 cup turinado sugar
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Mix self-rising flour, dried buttermilk powder and ground ginger. Use wide-mouth funnel to layer this mix in bottom of 24-ounce jar. Shake jar to level out.
  2. Using funnel, place matcha tea in jar next next.
  3. Using funnel, place turinado sugar in jar.
  4. Place cranberries in piece of saran wrap, twist, removing air and making a bundle to fit in jar. Tie and place in jar.
  5. Place lid on jar and decorate jar. Don’t forget to include baking instructions.

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