Kids love getting messy in the kitchen and creating sweet confections to serve or give to family, friends and teachers. Here are some fun ideas that don’t require a lot of time or culinary skill to prepare. Perfect for my family because we don’t have much of either!
Chocolate-covered pretzels are always fun to make and even more fun to eat. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boil, whichever is easiest for you to do. You can use regular old Hershey Kisses or baking chocolate or chocolate chips—it all works.
Be sure to have lots of wax paper and napkins around. Melty chocolate gets all over everything! You can lay the pretzels on the wax paper and sweep up any spills with the napkins or paper towels.
Melt the chocolate to a creamy consistency, then dip log-style pretzels and roll them around. Sprinkle with jimmies, nuts, smashed candy canes or whatever your favorite holiday candy is. The more creative it is, the better the treat. Place in the freezer or fridge to set. Wrap it up in a pretty bag and you’ve got a thoughtful, tasty gift for someone special.
Want to make a chocolate pretzel treat that's cute as a button? Take pretzel snaps and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place a Hershey’s Kiss on top of each. Put in the oven on low heat for just a few minutes. Keep checking—you just want the chocolate to get a little soft. It will look a little wet. Take the pretzels out of the oven and place a red or green M&M on top of the soft Hershey Kisses. Press down until the chocolate looks like a button. This is so easy and so yummy. My kids love them.
What about dipping spoons in chocolate, to stir hot chocolate or coffee? Neat idea, huh? And they look so pretty!
One recipe I saw in Taste of Home magazine uses Nutella instead of chocolate. You will need plastic spoons. Put 2 teaspoons of Nutella on each spoon, then quickly dip into melted white candy coating (you can find this in baking section of most supermarkets, or at Michaels or A.C. Moore). Decorate with toppings like sprinkles or crushed candies. Chill to set and then wrap up with ribbons and cellophane or place in a pretty holiday mug to give to someone who enjoys a good cup of cocoa.
You can also dip the spoon in regular melted chocolate for the same effect. Chocolate spoons will make your cocoa extra chocolatey or turn your plain coffee into a mocha coffee.
Taste of Home also highlighted candy canes dipped in chocolate. I tried them out and I think they look beautiful. Dip the curled part of your candy cane in melted chocolate, decorate and drizzle with white or colored chocolate, sprinkles or crushed candies and, like the pretzels, chill to set.
Dipping options are endless. Use your imagination: Dip Oreos, graham crackers, marshmallows and sugar cookies in chocolate. You never know, you might create the next best thing in holiday treats.
In a Jar
There are so many concoctions you could contain in a jar. Cookies in a jar, soup in a jar, brownies in a jar, hot chocolate mix in a jar. I found a cute idea online at Organized Home for Smores In a Jar. Mix graham crackers, seasonal Peeps or marshmallows, brown sugar and chocolate chips or holiday m&ms in a quart size canning jar tied up with ribbons and bows. Definitely, some of my favorite things! Try using teddy grahams in the recipe, too cute!
Your gift recipient just needs to mix all the ingredients together with ½ cup melted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/3 cup of buttermilk. Press the mixture into a greased 9 by 9 inch baking pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350. Cut like brownies and enjoy.
Here’s a hot chocolate mix sure to melt the holiday blues away from Very Best Baking.
Mix 6 cups of Nestle Carnation instant nonfat dry milk, 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of Nestle baking cocoa and 1-1/2 cups of mini marshmallows in a large bowl. Pour mix into a 2 quart jar or other container or make several gifts by placing a few cups of the mix in plastic bags adorned with ribbons. Don’t forget to add a candy cane.
Attach a recipe that tells your recipient to place ½ cup of the cocoa mix into their cup and stir in 1 cup of hot water or milk. Hey, maybe you could add some chocolate spoons or chocolate covered candy canes to finish off your hot cocoa package.
All Mixed Up
Chex mixes, granola, popcorn, and nut mixes all wrap up very nicely to give as a special gift. Here are some recipes:
Add apple pie spice, some sugar and a little butter to popcorn for a festive holiday popcorn mix; or parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic salt for pizza popcorn. Bag up the popcorn and fill a holiday tin. Makes a great homemade gift from your kitchen.
I found this holiday candy mix recipe at Mom It Forward.
Mix 5 cups of Honey Nut Chex Cereal, 4 cups of mini pretzels and 1 cup of peanut M&Ms; Melt one package of vanilla candy melts and add to mix. Drizzle with some melted chocolate and crushed candy canes. Keep in an air tight container.
Chex has a great holiday Gingerbread Chex Mix recipe. In microwavable dish, mix 3 cups Apple Cinnamon Chex, 3 cups Wheat Chex and 1 cup fancy mixed nuts. In another small microwavable dish, melt ¼ cup butter, then stir in ¼ cup packed brown sugar, ¼ cup light molasses, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger and cook in the microwave uncovered for about 30 seconds or 1 minute until boiling. Pour hot mixture over cereal. Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes until cereal begins to brown. Spread on waxed paper to cool and then stir in ½ cup of chewy cinnamon candies (like Hot Tamales). Keep in an air tight container.
Bark Up That Christmas Tree
While you’re trimming the tree, make some bark - not tree bark or a dog's bark. I’m talking about the addictive sweet and salty candy, cookie mix. It always looks so pretty and is so easy to whip up.
To make bark, melt chocolate chips, candy bars or candy melts. Add crushed candies, cookies, graham crackers, marshmallows, trail mix, raisins, craisins, pretzels, red and green M&Ms or whatever you like into the melted chocolate. Drizzle with vanilla or colored chocolate or mix in for a tie dye kind of look. Then, cool on a cookie sheet or casserole dish in the freezer. When cool, break up into pieces and place in a clear plastic container or pretty cellophane bag to gift. I usually keep it in the refrigerator in a plastic container or Ziploc bag. Bark looks great on a cookie plate too surrounding your baked goodies.
I was inspired by the Smores jar gift so I decided to make a smores type of bark. I melted the chocolate and added mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers. I spread the mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet and set in the freezer. It is delicious! Try it, it's so easy and so good.
Do you have a special and easy treat you make each year? Share with us here on Patch. I know this mom around town is always looking for some new ideas.
Make it simple and enjoy every sweet moment of this holiday season!