Tasty sweets to make for Christmas gifts that arent complicated
I am a decent cook but not an accomplished baker. I want three different treats in three styles. I was thinking peanutbutter blossoms, rocky road brownie bites and Oreo truffles. Anything easy and better than this? Is this a good cross section? I am not opposed to semi homemade style but i want to "put my foot in it" to some degree.
I'd put those all in the "cookie-ish" category. If you're looking for more diversity than that and have a candy thermometer, I made Penuche today and it was a piece of cake... or rather, fudge... It took about 45 minutes but was incredibly easy.
I made a triple batch and did half with walnuts half with no nuts at all (I didn't have many so instead of stirring it in I sprinkled them on top of half as soon as I poured and smoothed it and then lightly pressed them in.) Then, I realized I had some chocolate candy coating left over from making "almond roca" so I melted that and spread it over the top of the penuche.
The whole idea of me making it was to use "leftover" ingredients from the other things I had made since I have no use for a bunch of sugars the rest of the year. Turns out, it's so easy and people really like it so it'll probably be added to the list of "regulars."
No, not hard, you just have to follow the directions and have a candy thermometer.
I don't know who to attribute the recipe to, I printed it out but it didn't include the site's name.
4 oz (1 stick) butter
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 t light corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1.5 c toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
8 oz semi sweet chocolate or candy coating
Prepare a 8x4" loaf pan by lining it with foil and spraying with nonstick spray
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, salt and corn syrup and stir until dissolved.
Once the brown sugar melts, stir until the temp reaches 290 degrees F (143 C) (Keep the heat medium to medium high, you're not trying to get to 290 fast, you need to let it get there on it's own and if you don't, it won't set up right. Ask me how I know... and you don't want it any higher than 290 because it will burn and apparently it's so bad I can't type what the man (my "Honey, taste this" guinea pig,) said it tastes like here... )
When it reaches temp, turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 c of the chopped almonds and pour into the prepared pan.
Let the toffee sit for 3-5 minutes to firm up and then use a sharp paring knife to cut the toffee into thin bars about 1/2" by 2". They will look too small but once you dip and coat them they are much bigger.
Go over your cuts every couple of minutes while it continues to harden. (It helps get much cleaner cuts and neater "bars" of toffee. If you wait until after it cools to cut it breaks randomly.
Once cool, turn out onto a cutting board and cut apart if it is sticking together, melt the candy coating or chocolate in a double boiler (I don't have a microwave, you could use one instead,) and chop the remaining almonds very find or pulse in a food processor/ chopper.
Dip the toffee in the chocolate, roll in nuts and set on a foil or parchment lined pan to set up. Put in the frige when all are done to finish hardening.
Will keep for a couple of weeks in a sealed container in the frige.
I love a good shortbread cookie for several reasons:
1). They aren't overly sweet usually
2). They don't spread much as they bake so you can put more cookies on a cookie sheet (less time baking).
My personal favorite is from Farmgirl Fare and it is shortbread cookies with toffee bits and mini chocolate chips. I roll the dough out flat on a sheet of parchment with plastic wrap on top (so the rolling pin doesn't stick to the dough). Then I freeze the dough for 5-10 min, cut into shapes, and bake on fresh parchment paper. Oh, and by "cut into shapes" I mean I use my pizza cutter to make squares or diamonds ... Not anything difficult.
Anyways, the recipe is great and so easy. I really like rolling them between the plastic wrap and parchment, it makes it dead simple and quick to bake. The recipe is online on her website, worth a look if you have time to go get the mini chocolate chips and toffee bits at the store.
Here's one you don't have to bake at all. GINGER SYRUP: Peel about 3/4 lb of fresh ginger and cut the pieces small or chop them coarsely in the Cuisinart. Add to 3 cups each of sugar and water. Simmer slowly for 45-60 minutes. Strain. The syrup will have become thick and golden. Keep refrigerated. You add this by the teaspoon to a cup of tea in place of sugar. It's wonderful.
a different direction, but i like gifting spice-infused sugars... vanilla sugar or a lemon zest sugar.
making a big batch of apple or pumpkin butter in the crockpot....
s'more bites - graham cracker mini squares topped with marshmallow and broiled, then drizzle melted chocolate over the top
homemade nut butters -- vanilla almond butter, or cinnamon cashew or honey peanut butter
or, last thought -- provide recipe jars in mason jars -- layer dry ingredients, tie with ribbon, and provide recipe for liquid additions...
happy putting your foot in it!
The easiest candy treat is the pretzel squares topped with a Rolo candy, warmed in the oven and then a pecan squashed down on it.
It's been ages since I had some "snow balls" but saw the recipe in a community cookbook last night. It's a mix of dates and other ingredients mixed in a saucepan, then rice krispies are added and when cool enough to handle, made into balls and rolled in shredded coconut.
I think you have chocolate in all three choices you posted but that's ok because they are different.
Something really different an easy is mini cheesecakes baked in muffin tins. The base is a vanilla wafer. Topping is one cherry or two from canned cherry pie filling.
i REALLY like the white chocolate bark i made this year; i used 2 packs of ghiradali (sp) white chocolate; melted in micro on half power 45 seconds/then another 45 seconds;
added toasted sliced almonds, dried cranberries; put on parchment paper and roll flat; when cool, micro the whole piece 30 seconds to soften and add some crushed pistachios and more cranberries, (roll those on top) they are beautiful and delicious; nice color additon as well
One really simple one I've made that people love is white chocolate-cranberry-walnut-lemon clusters.
300 g white chocolate, chopped
150 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
150 g dried cranberries
zest of one lemon.
Melt the white chocolate with the zest in a double boiler. Remove from heat, mix in the nuts and dried fruit. Let cool to almost room temperature, and spoon onto foil or parchment sheets (or candy wrappers). Let dry.
You can also mix milk chocolate with almonds for almond bark, or dark chocolate with grated coconut, for similarly quick treats.