SOURCE: HandCraft Wines

December 13, 2012 05:00 ET

Hand-Crafted Holidays

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Dec 13, 2012) - (Family Features) Plates of melt-in-your-mouth cookies; baskets of warm, spiced breads; tins of dark, creamy fudge... the holidays are full of delicious and inspired ways to share the spirit of the season. If you're planning on making sweet holiday gifts this year, why not add an element of style by presenting your goodies in a hand-crafted holiday gift basket that's easy to make and fun to give.

"When you take the time to make a gift, the person receiving it feels special and your thoughtfulness really shows," said Cheryl Indelicato, 3rd generation vintner and proprietor of HandCraft Artisan Collection Wines. "And, gift baskets like these can be made with simple, beautiful things you have around the house or are easy to find." Here are some easy, festive ideas to get you started:

-- Reuse decorative boxes, bags and baskets that you already have. Line them with colorful shredded paper, or even seasonal fabric, and add a handmade label.
-- Package your sweet treats in holiday tins, simple wood or paper boxes, or even mason jars.
-- Add cheery finishing touches with colorful ribbons, holiday greenery, or pretty ornaments.

This Pinot Noir gift basket idea is inspired by HandCraft Artisan Collection wines which include four distinctive California wines to enjoy while celebrating with friends and family.

1. Start with a bottle of Pinot Noir. This medium bodied wine is elegant, supple, smooth and balanced -- delicious by itself or perfect with food. Gorgeous cherry, vanilla and strawberry aromas are followed by ripe black cherry, sweet spice, vanilla and chocolate flavors. The finish is soft and lingering with a perfect integration of structure, fruit and spice.

2. Next, make some delicious treats, such as: Pinot Noir Brownies (see recipe), white chocolate chip bar cookies, homemade caramels with sea salt, dulce de leche or caramel sauce.

3. For a beautiful presentation, tuck the wine and your wrapped treats into a metal tin or basket and add some holiday greenery.

For more recipes and information about wine, visit www.handcraftwines.com or www.facebook.com/handcraftwines.

Pinot Noir Chocolate Brownies
Yields 16 to 20 brownies

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons Handcraft Pinot Noir
3/4 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground cocoa
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter and wine. Stir cocoa with flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine with egg mixture; add nuts.

Spread into greased 8 x 8-inch pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Pinot Noir Icing

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons HandCraft Pinot Noir

Melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine. Continue heating over low heat stirring often, until mixture is smooth -- don't let it boil.

Spoon hot icing over fresh brownies and let stand for a minimum of an hour; 12 hours is best.

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