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Homemade sweets offer great gift ideas

December 15, 2004 - In the spirit of giving and sharing, what better way to personalize gifts than to make homemade treats for loved ones?

Consider preparing delectable sweets in the comfort of home. The whole family can join in the preparation and this bonding time can even become a tradition.

Creatively package the gifts in empty containers with festive paper and coordinate them with each individual's personality and style in mind. Loved ones will appreciate the thought.

Preparing an extra batch to keep at home is a wonderful treat for unexpected guests and it can be served with a warm cup of coffee.

Always having instant coffee on hand is ideal for impromptu entertaining and freshest when enjoyed within six months of opening. It's quick to prepare and conveniently leaves little cleanup, providing more quality time to share with guests.

Coffee also makes an excellent ingredient for desserts.

Here's a delicious recipe sure to fool family and friends into believing it took an en-tire day in the kitchen to prepare.

It only takes about 40 minutes and makes 16 servings.

Decadent Rum Balls

60 vanilla wafers, finely crushed (about 2 cups)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup finely chopped pecans

cup (1 stick) butter

or margarine, melted

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp. instant coffee

cup rum

1 cup coconut, toasted

Sliced almonds or chocolate sprinkles make a great substitute for the coconut.

To prepare, mix wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, pecans, butter, corn syrup and cocoa in a large bowl.

Add instant coffee granules to rum; stir until granules are dissolved. Add to crumb mixture; mix well. Let stand 15 minutes.

Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; roll in coconut.

Place in airtight container with sheet of wax paper between each layer of balls. Store at room temperature.

Whether it is a gift or a dessert to share in the comfort of your home, friends and family will enjoy unwrapping this heartfelt treat.

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