Like Joni Mitchell says, “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees.” In preparation for the holidays I decided to share my three standard candy recipes and two gift wrapping tricks. ‘Tis the season to be crafty!
- Candy Making: I make three types of sweet treats every year–Rocky Road, White Flurries, and Peppermint Bark. They are each very simple and require only a bowl and a microwave.
This recipe is tried and true. I learned it in 4-H Cooking when I was in fourth grade. I don’t think it’s possible to screw it up!
1 bag of chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet, your choice)
1 bag of butterscotch chips
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter (substitute with chunky if that’s all you have…no use in buying two kinds if you’re like me and only eat chunky)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (salted or not, depends on if you prefer the juxtaposition of sweet and savory)
1 regular sized bag of mini-marshmallows (only use as many as your bowl will allow!)
Combine the chips in a large glass bowl and melt in the microwave. Start out with 45 seconds, check the chips, and add more time as necessary. It is imperative that you don’t over heat the chips! Use the spatula to mix and break up the chips.
When the chips are mostly melted (a few lumps are still fine) add the peanut butter. Heat in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until the consistency is even. Add more time if needed.
Mix in nuts and then the marshmallows. Everything should be evenly coated. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet in an even layer. Use an aluminum cookie sheet if you can, because you will need to use a knife later to cut individual pieces and you don’t want to ruin your Teflon coating.
Refrigerate until solid. Cut and serve on a plate or package up in cellophane bags. Keep refrigerated or it will get soft and melt.
1 box rice Chex
1 box corn Chex
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1-2 packages white candy chips or white almond bark (whatever type you can find will work, but you will need at least 24 ounces)
1-2 cups pretzels (optional)
1 package of seasonal M&Ms (I make this for Valentine’s Day and you could also do it for Easter)
Spread out long sheets of wax paper on the counter for later use. Microwave white candy in large glass bowl starting out in 45 second intervals. Keep checking the candy and stirring. Do not overheat. Add in peanuts and pretzels (if desired). Add cereal. Do not over fill the bowl. Coat evenly. Spread out on wax paper to cool. If there is remaining candy in the bottom of the bowl, add more cereal and keep mixing. There are no precise measurements because this recipe can be adapted to fit whatever bowl size you have. Once the candy is solid again, break mixture into chunks, wrap up in a cellophane bag, garnish with M&Ms, and tie it up with ribbon.
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 bag semi-sweet, dark, or milk chocolate chips (your choice)
1-2 candy canes (or whatever red and white peppermint candy you have available)
Break up peppermint candy and reserve in a small bowl. Pour chips into separate glass bowls. Heat the regular chocolate chips first. Heat in 45 second intervals and stir until consistency is even and creamy. Do not over heat! Using a sifter, add peppermint dust into chocolate. Spread onto wax paper or cookie sheet. This does not have to be neat. Let chocolate cool on the counter or stick it in the fridge if you have room. Heat white chips after the regular chocolate is firm. Spread white chocolate on top of the regular chocolate. Spread so it matches the size and shape of the firmed chocolate base. Sprinkle larger bits of peppermint on top. Let cool completely. Break into pieces and place on plates or cellophane bags.
- Gift Wrapping Tips: The art of beautifully wrapping gifts does not have to cost a lot of money or strain your patience. It’s easy to improvise if you can get creative and think outside the box!
If you can’t find cellophane bags or are cheapo like me and won’t spend more than a few cents per bag, you can make your own! Buy clear cellophane from a craft store. The more the better, and the cheaper it will be! Find a large mug or glass. Cut large pieces of cellophane and line the mug so that there is plenty of cellophane peaking out. Fill mug with treats and gather cellophane in a bunch. Pull out the makeshift sack and be sure you’ve given yourself enough excess so that your treats won’t spill out the sides. If it looks good, tie up with ribbon.
Do you suck at making bows? Have you not mastered curling ribbon? Do you think pre-fabbed bows in a bag are cheesy? Then tulle is your friend! It’s impossible to mess up! Buy white tulle at the craft store. Wrap your gift like you normally would, and then tie a bow out of tulle. Don’t forget to fluff the rounds of the bow. If you want a traditional ribbon look, cut points on the bottom pieces. You can also cut the rounds of the bow and make a poof of tulle. Tulle is fabric and it’s okay if it gets smooshed in transit. Simply fluff up your tulle when you get to your destination.