How to Make a Gourmet Gift Basket

Creating a gift basket that tantalizes the palate and delights the nose is not difficult, but it does require a little forethought. The perfect gourmet gift basket cannot be too sweet, too savory, or overindulgent. That is, in fact, the point. Isn’t it? Here is a gourmet gift basket “greatest hits” collection to help you treat your friends and family.

1. Coffee

Black, creamy, sweet, bitter, strong, aromatic, with cinnamon, with anise, with roasted hazelnuts, or however you prefer it, this is a classic gourmet gift basket item. If you include coffee in your gift basket, consider adding whole cinnamon sticks or raw sugar.

2. Chocolates

Who could turn these down? From gourmet chocolate bars to cocoa powders, chocolate is the perfect sweet treat. It is an excellent match with coffee or red wine. A mix of milk, dark, and white chocolates is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

3. Dried fruits and Nuts

A sweet and salty snack; these are expensive in many regions and make a great gourmet gift basket idea. Dried pineapple and Macadamia nuts are a perfect combination. Roasted almonds are also popular.

4. Wine

Volumes are written about matching the right wine with specific foods, but this doesn’t need to be a difficult part of building a gourmet gift basket. A moderately priced Prosecco or a bottle of champagne is a good choice because it is bound to go with something in the gift basket. And if it doesn’t, it’s still good by itself!

5. Cheese

It’s a good idea to include shelf-stable spreads. These can be found infused with herbs, garlic, or port wine, and will keep fresh if the basket sits out for awhile. Also, it allows the receiver of your gourmet gift basket to consume the cheese at their leisure. If you include cheese, don’t forget the crackers!

6. Smoked salmon or sausages

Also good with crackers, smoked meats (especially salmon) are an excellent pick. Salmon and smoked sausages are classic matches for wine and cheese. Alaskan smoked salmon is available in most regions, and where it is not available you are sure to find smoked sausages.

7. Oils

Olive oil, of course, has made the “greatest hits” gift list for centuries. Don’t overlook the many infusions available: Chile oil, garlic oil, and sun dried tomato basil are some favorites.

8. Truffles

Truffles are used to flavor oils, butter, and a host of gourmet dishes. They are now commercially produced in North America, but still remain expensive (several hundred dollars per pound on the cheap end of the scale). This little underground gem is the stuff chefs dream of, and will leave any serious culinary types long in your debt. If truffles are out, try dried shitake mushrooms.

9. Olives

High quality olives are a real treat, made even better when stuffed. Just ask any martini drinker about the merits of a blue cheese olive! A handful of smoked almonds and an olive are a classic Spanish appetizer that will nicely accompany your gourmet gift basket.

10. Honey and Preserves

Fresh honey and preserves are available wherever fruit is grown, and are usually produced locally by small farms. This makes an excellent regional gift, and the receiver of your basket will enjoy either.

Gourmet gift baskets are good for family and friends because they are thoughtful, extravagant, and easily personalized. Make a basket tailored to your recipient’s tastes, or to a specific food region (Italian, French, Pacific Northwest, Hawaiian). Go wild; don’t limit yourself to wicker baskets and bows. Try putting your gourmet treats in a decorative planter. Got a Southwest themed basket? Put it in an upside-down ten gallon hat! You get the idea, so get out there and spoil some people.

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