Peppermint SticksSteak Rub (to make
as a gift)Peanut Butter Toffee BarsPeppermint PattiesHomemade GranolaMint Chocolate BarkChocolate Cookie BarkHot Cocoa MixTrufflesSugarplum TreatsChocolate Mint BrowniesBaked Snowballs
Peppermint Sticks• Hands-on Time: 10
minutes Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (includes cooling time) Serves: 15• This seasonal treat is a cinch to make, and the presentation is just as simple and sweet. Place sets of five candies in clear cellophane bags, staple them closed, then affix decorative paper labels.• Ingredients• 1 cup dark or milk chocolate chips• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil• 15 (4-inch) soft or hard peppermint sticks• white nonpareils• Instructions• In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and oil for 1 minute, then continue in 10-second bursts, stirring between heatings. When most, but not all, of the chips have melted, stir the chocolate until it is smooth.• Spread the nonpareils on a sheet of waxed paper. Dip one end of each peppermint stick into the chocolate, then roll it in the nonpareils. Set the sticks on another sheet of waxed paper until the chocolate has set, about 1 hour.
Steak Rub (to give as
a gift) FOR THE JAMAICAN SPICE RUB• Instructions 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 3• Jamaican Spice Rub: Combine all the ingredients tablespoons paprika in a medium bowl, then place the rub in an 1 tablespoon cinnamon airtight container. Makes about 1/2 cup. 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 teaspoon Wording for the card: Brush 3/4 to 1 pound of allspice shrimp or poultry with oil, then coat with 1 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper tablespoon of the seasoning. For maximum flavor, 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black let the rubbed chicken or shrimp rest several pepper hours before cooking. FOR THE MONTREAL STEAK RUB• Montreal Steak Rub: Combine all the ingredients 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 in a medium bowl, then place the rub in an tablespoons granulated or dried airtight container. Makes about 2/3 cup. minced onion 2 tablespoons granulated or dried Wording for the card: Brush 3/4 to 1 pound of minced garlic steak or 1/3 pound hamburger patties with oil. 2 tablespoons coarse salt 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse-ground Coat the steak with 1 tablespoon of rub, the black pepper patties with 1 teaspoon each, or mix 1 tablespoon 1 1/2 tablespoons dill weed of the seasoning into 3/4 to 1 pound of ground 1 tablespoon ground coriander beef before forming the burgers. For maximum seeds flavor, let the meat rest several hours before 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper cooking.
• Peanut Butter Toffee Bars
Hands-on Time: 10 minutes Ingredients Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (includes cooling time) 1/2 cup butter, at room Makes: 32 bars temperature 1/2 cup creamy peanut This tempting gift deliciously combines three classic candy bar flavors. Kids can butter help by sprinkling on the topping and placing the finished cookies in colorful 3/4 cup packed brown take-out boxes lined with holiday-inspired parchment paper. sugar• Instructions 1 large egg yolk• Heat the oven to 350°. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with foil so that the ends 1 1/2 cups flour extend over the edges of the pan by at least 2 inches. 1/2 cup quick oats• In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and egg yolk on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 3 cups dark or semisweet about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the flour, oats, and salt and beat the mixture on low until the ingredients are just chocolate chips blended, about 30 seconds. 1 cup toffee baking pieces• Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust until it is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes (be careful not to overbake).• Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the toffee pieces over the chocolate, gently pressing them into place.• Set the pan on a wire rack to cool until the chocolate has set, about 2 hours. Using the edges of the foil, lift the dessert from the pan, then cut it into rectangles.
Peppermint Patties• In the bowl
of an electric mixer, stir together the water, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons plus 1 lemon juice, and peppermint extract, then sift in half the teaspoon water confectioners sugar. Add the shortening. Beat on medium, then 1 tablespoon light corn syrup slowly sift in the remaining confectioners sugar until the mixture is 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice well combined. 1 teaspoon peppermint• Knead the mixture into a ball (it will be very stiff; if necessary, add extract 1/2 teaspoon water to make it workable). Use the bottom of a 1 (1-pound) box glass pie plate to apply firm, even pressure to flatten the ball confectioners sugar (3-3/4 between sheets of waxed paper into a circle about 9 inches in cups) diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Lay the waxed-paper-covered disk on 1 tablespoon shortening a cookie sheet and freeze it until its firm, about 15 minutes. 10 to 12 ounces semisweet or• Place the frozen disk on a cutting surface and remove and reserve bittersweet chocolate chips the waxed paper. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment. With a 6 hard mint candies (we used small round cutter (ours was 1-1/4 inches), cut out circles from the Starlight), crushed in a ziplock disk, then place them on the cookie sheet. Gather the scraps into a bag with a rolling pin ball, use the pie plate and waxed paper to flatten it again, and cut more circles until the entire disk is used up. Freeze the circles for 10 minutes.• Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Coat the patties one at a time: balance each on a fork and dip it (use another fork as needed to flip the patty in the chocolate), then shake off any excess chocolate before returning the coated patty to the parchment. Sprinkle each patty with a bit of crushed mint candy. Add more chocolate to the double boiler as necessary until all the patties are coated.• Harden the finished patties in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and preferably overnight. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge, layered between sheets of waxed paper, for up to one month. Include tags with your gifts instructing recipients to keep the patties refrigerated. Makes 5 dozen.
Homemade Granola• Heat the oven
to 300 degrees. 4 cups rolled oats 1 cup wheat germ In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds the oats, wheat germ, nuts, 1/2 cup sesame seeds sesame seeds, brown sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon cinnamon, and salt. Make a 1/4 teaspoon salt well in the dry ingredients and 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup honey add the oil, honey, and water. 1/3 cup water 1 (6-ounce) Toss the mixture until it is well package dried sweetened combined, then spread it cranberries or other dried fruits, such as cherries, raisins, evenly on a cookie sheet. pineapple, or papaya• Bake the granola until lightly browned, about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to keep the mixture from sticking. Let it cool completely, then stir in the cranberries or dried fruit. Makes about 7 cups.
Mint Chocolate Bark 2 cups
semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup white chocolate• Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set it aside. Melt the semisweet chips in a chips heatproof bowl set atop a pot of simmering 1 teaspoon vegetable oil water over medium-high heat. Stir 1 teaspoon peppermint continuously until smooth. Pour the chocolate onto the cookie sheet and spread it to about a extract 1/4-inch thickness with the back of a spoon. 2 drops green food• Using the same method, melt the white coloring chocolate chips with the oil. Stir continuously until smooth. Add the peppermint extract and food coloring; stir well. Pour the mixture over the chocolate layer and spread to about a 1/8- inch thickness with the back of a spoon. Draw the tip of a butter knife through the layers to create swirls. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.• Remove the bark from the pan. Peel off the waxed paper. Set the bark on a cutting board and cut it into 2 dozen bars with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chocolate Cookie Bark• Line a
9-inch-square baking pan with 20 creme-filled waxed paper. Coat the paper with chocolate sandwich nonstick spray; set it aside. Pour the cookies (about half of cookies into a large bowl and break an 18-ounce package) them into small pieces by hand or with the back of a wooden spoon, a 2 2/3 cups white job kids will love. chocolate chips or 2 2/3 cups semisweet• Melt the white chocolate chips -- or the semisweet chips -- in a large chocolate chips microwave-safe bowl according to 1 teaspoon vanilla the package directions (add the extract (use with extract after the chips have melted). semisweet chips only) Remove from the microwave and quickly fold in the cookie pieces with a spatula. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate until solid, about 1 hour.• Remove the bark from the pan and carefully peel off the waxed paper. Set the bark on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the bark into 12 bars for wrapping or 24 triangles for boxing as shown above. Store in an airtight container.
Hot Cocoa Mix 2 cups
nonfat dry milk• Measure all of the ingredients powder into a mixing bowl and whisk 3/4 cup sugar them until they are evenly 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa blended. 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips• Store the mix in a tightly 1/2 cup powdered nondairy covered container at room creamer temperature until youre ready 1/8 teaspoon salt to package it. Makes about 4 cups of mix.
Truffles BASE GANACHE 1 1/3
cups semisweet chocolate chips 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk ALMOND TRUFFLES• Make the base ganache: Fill a medium saucepan halfway Flavoring: 1/2 teaspoon pure with water, then bring the water to a simmer over medium- almond extract low heat. Reduce the heat to low. Make a double boiler by Coating: Finely chopped toasted placing a large metal or glass bowl over the saucepan but not almonds touching the water. Add the chocolate chips and soy milk to CHERRY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES the bowl and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until Flavoring: 1/2 cup dried tart the mixture is smooth and shiny. Remove it from the heat. cherries, coarsely chopped• Pick a variety: Choose one of the recipe variations above, Coating: Unsweetened cocoa then stir the flavoring into the warm ganache (to make plain powder chocolate truffles, omit the flavoring.) Transfer the mixture CHOCOLATE MINT TRUFFLES to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate it until its firm enough to Flavoring: 1 teaspoon pure scoop, about 4 hours. peppermint extract• Shape and coat the truffles: Place the coating of your Coating: Chocolate sprinkles chosen recipe in a shallow bowl (for other options, see CUSTOM TRUFFLE COATINGS "Custom Truffle Coatings," above). Scoop out a heaping Sweetened flaked coconut, minced teaspoon of the chilled ganache and, using your hands, Crushed cookies shape it into a ball. (Tip: Lightly greasing the spoon and your Finely chopped peanuts hands with vegetable oil prevents the chocolate from sticking.) Roll the truffle in the coating, then place the truffle in an airtight storage container. Repeat with the remaining ganache.• Storing, serving, and packaging: Cover the truffles and place them in the refrigerator until youre ready to wrap them (see our ideas for A+ Packaging) or serve them. If you give the truffles as a gift, they can be kept at a cool room temperature for the day but should be refrigerated thereafter. Makes 24 truffles.
Sugarplum Treats 14-ounce bag of
candy• Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil melts and lightly spray it with nonstick Craft sticks cooking spray. 10-ounce package of• Melt the candy coating according to marshmallows the package directions. Assorted sprinkles, sugars,• Insert a craft stick into each nuts, flaked coconut, and marshmallow. Working one at a time, dip them into the melted candy candy decorations coating, then into one of the decorations (for easy dipping, put the decorations in shallow bowls), and place them on the cookie sheet.• Once all the sugarplums are made, chill them in the freezer for 15 minutes. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. If you like, wrap each treat in a cellophane candy bag (available at craft and party stores) tied with a ribbon, as shown. Makes 3 dozen.
Chocolate Mint Brownies BROWNIES• Heat
the oven to 350º and grease a 9-inch square baking 1/2 cup butter pan. For the brownies, place the butter and chocolate in 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, 1 1/2 cups sugar stir, and microwave for 1 minute more. Stir until smooth. 3 eggs In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract Stir in the chocolate and the vanilla extract. Finally, stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt the flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour into MINT FROSTING the prepared pan, then bake for 25 minutes or until a 1/4 cup softened butter knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for at 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar least 1 hour. 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons milk• To make the mint frosting, cream the butter and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract confectioners sugar. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a Green food coloring time, beating until it is smooth and spreadable. Beat in CHOCOLATE TOPPING the peppermint extract and tint to the desired shade 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips with green food coloring. Frost the cooled brownies, cover, and chill for 1 hour.• To make the chocolate topping, pour the chips into a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until the chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the brownies and smooth it with a knife. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or until the coating hardens.• Bring the brownies to room temperature, then cut into 16 to 32 pieces. Layer them on a piece of cellophane (place waxed paper between the layers to prevent sticking), wrap up the brownie package, and tie with a red ribbon. Makes 16 to 32 brownies.
Baked Snowballs 12 vanilla or•
Break each cookie or slice of cake into several chocolate wafer small pieces and divide them evenly among six 3- cookies or six 1/2- inch ramekins, pressing them into the bottom of inch-thick slices of each. Fill each ramekin with ice cream, using the your favorite cake back of a spoon to smooth it level at the top. Place 6 scoops of your the ramekins on a cookie sheet in the freezer while favorite ice cream you prepare the snow (meringue). 3 egg whites at• Heat the oven to 500º. Place the egg whites in a room temperature medium-size bowl and whip them with an electric 1/4 teaspoon cream beater set at medium-high speed until they of tartar resemble soap bubbles. Add the cream of tartar 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form (now it 1/2 teaspoon vanilla will look like shaving cream). While you continue extract beating, add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and Chocolate syrup, then the vanilla extract. Continue beating until sprinkles, and shiny, stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Now you Maraschino cherries have your snow!• Remove the ramekins from the freezer and spread the snow meringue over the top of each with a spatula, taking care to completely cover the ice cream. This "blanket of snow" is what insulates the ice cream, keeping it cold in the hot oven. Bake the snowballs on the cookie sheet until the tops are golden brown, about 1 to 3 minutes. Watch them carefully; they brown quickly. Garnish the snowballs with chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and cherries, and serve. Makes 6.