Food: 3 Easy Homemade Holiday Gifts

Story by Lindsey Chester.

Cary, NC- Do you have kids with staggering gift list? The solution is to get creative in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a homemade treat?

I have 3 treats that have become a reliable gifts every year. All are easy, the ingredients are readily available and they won’t break the bank. My two daughters have helped me make these ever since my youngest was tall enough to stand on a chair next to the island to stir. Each look very pretty placed in cellophane bags that we purchase from our well-stocked Dollar Store.

My top picks are Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods, Mom’s Two Flavor Fudge, and Peppermint Bark.

Chocolate Covered pretzels

Ingredients:

  • Bag of long pretzel rods
  • 12 oz bag of white or semi sweet chocolate morsels
  • sprinkles of your choice to decorate.
  • Nuts are another great option or crushed mint

Note: one 12oz bag will yield about 10-15 pretzels. I usually make at least 3 bags at a time.

  1. Empty the morsels into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Put in the microwave on a medium setting for 1 minute. take out and stir. Continue this process until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Overdo it, and the chocolate actually burns and will not get creamy.
  3. Lined rimmed baking sheets with wax paper.
  4. Take one pretzel at a time and dip in the chocolate. We find that using a plastic spoon to glop on the chocolate helps..
  5. Hold the pretzel over the wax paper and sprinkle on your toppings.
  6. Lay to rest and repeat until all chocolate is used.
  7. Place the tray in the frig to firm up.
  8. Lick the bowl!
  9. After about an hour the pretzels should be good and firm.
  10. Take several, place in cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon. Voila- gorgeous edible gift!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients

  • 12oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 12oz bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 bag Starlight peppermints

To Make:

  1. Unwrap all the mints (get your kids to do this!) and place in a large plastic ziplock bag
  2. With a mallet, crush into smaller pieces. (Kids LOVE to do this task!)
  3. Place the semi sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium for 1 minute. Stir and repeat until all is melted and creamy.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Spoon the melted chocolate evenly over the surface of the baking sheet. Kids can now lick the bowl!
  6. Place in the frig to firm up.
  7. Meanwhile, place the white chocolate chips in a second microwave safe bowl. Repeat the melting process as above.
  8. Remove baking sheet from the frig and pour the melted white chocolate over the dark, spreading lightly and evenly.
  9. While chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the crushed mints over the top, including dust and large pieces.
  10. Replace in the frig to firm for about 1 hour.
  11. Take out of frig. Holding the paper, begin to gently break apart the candy into large and medium pieces.
  12. Place pieces into pretty boxes or bags of about 1/4- 1/2 pounds each.

This recipe can easily be doubled/ tripled etc for large quantities and tastes just like William -Sonoma’s more expensive variety and less than half the price!

Mom’s Two Flavor Fudge

My Mom was never a baker, but she used to make this fudge recipe with me when I was a kid. It doesn’t require any special candy thermometer, or knowledge of  any candy making. The marshmallow fluff does the work to make this a creamy fudge you will be sure to make year after year.

The better quality chocolate you use, the better the results. This fudge is fool proof and can be made no matter the weather because you do not need to get the mixture to a certain temperature. Simply boil for the 15 minutes and you are good to go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1C white sugar
  • 1C evaporated milk (less than 1 can)
  • 1/2C butter (1 stick)
  • 1jar (5-10oz) marshmallow fluff
  • 1- 6 oz pkg butterscotch morsels
  • 1-6oz pkg semi sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 C chopped walnuts (can be deleted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

To Make:

  1. Butter a 9″ baking pan (can use a 9″ x 13″ for thinner pieces)
  2. Place sugars, evaporated milk and butter in a sauce pan. Stirring, bring to a full boil over moderate heat.
  3. Boil for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the marshmallow fluff, the chocolate and the butterscotch morsels. Stir till melted and thoroughly combined.
  5. Blend in the vanilla and the walnuts.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan. Now you can lick the bowl- OMG!
  7. Chill until firm.
  8. Remove from frig and cut into 1″ pieces and place in pretty boxes.

Its not low- fat, but it is a crowd pleaser.

You will need to decide how to package them for giving.

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