It's a yearly tradition at my house. One big day of making Christmas goodies to share with friends and family. This year I was alone, sadly. Every other year I've had my little sister doing it with me. There have been years where others have participated as well, but she was always there. So, it was sad to not have her here to do this with me. She moved this last summer up to Nampa. I did call her as I was working on the goodies to find that she was doing the same thing! Making Christmas goodies...by herself. Apparently we were still on the same page. :)
This year I went with the super easy. Without the extra hands to help (Landon wasn't even here to help!) I tried to find things I could make that wouldn't take days to finish. Actually, every year I try to find something new and different that I haven't made before. It's fun finding the new recipes and ideas. I've made homemade Twix bars using Christmas cookie cutters, Nutter Butter Santas, Eggnog Truffles....you get the idea. But EVERY year we make pb cups and pb Ritz sandwich crackers dipped in chocolate. It's just what we do. But, those take some serious time. Making the pb Ritz sandwiches and then dipping....and the cups take a bit too. A dollup of chocolate, dollup of pb, final dollup of chocolate. Sigh. Needless to say, this year was truly a sad year in the goodie department. I did come up with some really great ideas with the help of the internet :0) so I thought I'd share!
These were truly easy. Just unwrap some caramels, dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with your desired topping. I used whatever I had in my cupboard. Nuts, sprinkles, coconut, pb chips...you get the idea. Whatever tastes good in a candy bar with caramel...go for it! Even crushed pretzels would go great on it. Or, if you've got the time and patience...you could wait for the chocolate to dry and use a colored frosting and make cool designs on the top. Swirls, zig zags, stuff like that.
These did take a little more time as the dough has to refrigerate for an hour, and then with the cutting out of the shapes, and several trays of cookies to bake.....you get the idea. I'm not a cookie baker, but these did go really quick. I used mini cookie cutters, so these are bite sized, which means I could bake 20 cookies per sheet, 10 minutes per batch...it wasn't too bad. After baking, I dipped half of them in colored chocolate and sprinkled the chocolate with the same color of sugar sprinkles. My daughter ate three all at once. Apparently that means they are good. OH! And they are gingerbread cookies. Not sugar cookies.
This one was the easiest by far. I have made peppermint bark in the past. But this one is my favorite so far...just melt chocolate in your double boiler, spread on parchment paper on a cookie sheet to desired thickness, and then sprinkle with those yummy Andes peppermint chips. The chips actually have itty bitty pieces of candy cane in them. So, there's still a small amount of crunch, but you still get tons of peppermint flavor. The only thing I would change is maybe using semisweet chips for the bark part instead of milk chocolate. I'm a dark chocolate girl. I would eat it up!
And, this is something that I try to make every year. My mom got these chocolate molds FOREVER ago. I don't know how long ago...but they've been around for a while. I borrowed them from her several years back, and have just kept using them. It's a full Nativity. I definitely use white chocolate as you wouldn't get the same effect using brown. I made four sets yesterday. They aren't quite done as I need to shave the excess off of the sides. I've just got the pieces laid out on parchment paper right now as you can see. But just look at the pieces! The molds actually have the mold for the stable as well, but I usually don't make that part, as I put all of the pieces in a cellophane bag and wrap it with a pretty ribbon. These I give out to those I visit teach, or those who Jaysen home teaches. I think what I love so much about these, is that my mom has a Nativity set she made out of porcelain a LONG time ago that she puts out every Christmas that is identical to these chocolate pieces. I was lucky enough to find an identical set of the porcelain Nativity this year at the CSI craft fair. It's truly beautiful. Unfortunately, it's not displayed this year for fear that Mackenzee will break the fragile pieces. But, my mom will have hers out...as always.