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As a former college professor, I can relate that I would be uncomfortable, or at least wary, of receiving a gift from a student, particularly from a female student. While I would have no doubt of your intentions, even the whiff of encroaching on the teacher-student professional relationship could be cause for concern - if, for no other reason, than to avoid any appearance of impropiety on my part. In this day and age, one has to be very careful...

That said, I agree with others that the professor did not handle the issue deftly at all. And a simple thank you card showing appreciation for writing a letter of recommendation would always be well-received.
 
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