I think homemade gifts are the best as they are thoughtful despite the fact that they don't look anything close to store bought. I find there's beauty in rustic, imperfect efforts; and family and friends seem to appreciate homemade gifts more. Plus, you can make them personalized.
Like this recipe I tried for a colleague and friend (who likes matcha green tea) for his office send off. After baking this simple-to-follow recipe twice, even though I still prefer chai, I'm now a matcha believer.
Here's the original recipe with a few notes from my experience.
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 170 degrees C. Line a muffin pan with 24 cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until thoroughly blended.
Whisk together the milk and oil, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the matcha powder, almond extract and eggs and beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour the batter into the pans, filling three-quarters of the way full. Bake until cakes test done, about 15 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
For the buttercream: Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add one-third of the sugar and blend well. Add in the remaining sugar one-third at a time, blending well between each addition. Add in the milk and matcha powder and beat until light and fluffy.
To assemble: Add the buttercream to a large pastry bag with a grass tip and pipe in small dollops to resemble grass. (I simply used a star nozzle for my first attempt and a round nozzle for the second. Not a fan of the grass-look of the original recipe.)