Holiday recipes make gift giving easy, shareable

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The holiday season is a time where people love to gift tasty treats to their friends, while at the same time giving their own homes a smell of sweet baked goods. I tested out a few recipes to see which are the best bets for holiday treats.

The first recipe is for Peppermint Fudge, from a website called chocolateandcarrots.com. I figure for the holidays, you really can’t go wrong with chocolate and peppermint.

Peppermint Fudge
Ingredients:
1 (14 ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
5 candy canes.

Start by covering an 8-inch square pan with non-stick aluminum foil. Simmer over a double boiler to warm the condensed milk and butter together until the butter is melted. Add in the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until melted. Mix in the peppermint and vanilla until combined. Pour into the tinfoil pan.

Place the candy canes in a gallon sized plastic bag. Gently crush with a cup or something hard until the candy canes are in bite-sized or smaller pieces. Pour into a strainer to sift out the tiny flakes of peppermint. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top of the fudge. Place in the fridge to chill and set for at least three hours before cutting into squares.

These mouthwatering fudge bites went over so well at my house that I did not even get to give them to my friends before my mom had made everybody in the family try them. The recipe is very straightforward and easy to follow, with the most difficult part being crushing the candy canes, which really isn’t too difficult.

The final taste of the fudge was delicious. They tasted like milk chocolate fudge that came right from a fudge shop. The consistency was not too hard and not too soft and had that melt in your mouth taste that fudge lovers look for. I really liked the crunch in each of the bites from the candy canes, as well. It brought a different texture. These fudge pieces would look so cute with the holiday mints crushed on top and tied up with a holiday bow.

I would rather not even know what the nutritional value looks like in one of these bite-sized goodies, because I am sure it is not pretty. However, it does satisfy a good sweet tooth and make for a great gift for friends and neighbors.

I am always a sucker for good caramel around the holiday season, so I found a recipe on bakespace.com that has nutty caramels in it.

Nutty Caramels

Ingredients:
¼ cup, plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
melted chocolate [optional]

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and grease the foil with one teaspoon of butter. Set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, milk and remaining butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees — firm ball stage. Remove from the heat; stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and let it cool completely. Using the foil, lift the caramels out of the pan; discard the foil, and cut into small squares or whatever shape you desire. Drizzle each with chocolate, if desired.

I was so excited to make my own caramel treats for the first time only to realize that it is quite time consuming. 81 servings is a lot of caramel, but by the time I purchased all of the ingredients and then took the amount of time to make these caramel treats, the overall product was not worth it to me. It took a good hour and a half to make all of the squares. I was really frustrated with how sticky the caramels were to get off of the foil. If you do decide to take all of the time to make these, at least save yourself some frustration by putting a lot of butter onto the foil.

Honestly, if you really want to treat your friends to some caramels for the holidays, just buy the ones at the store and wrap them up in a cute way. It will save you so much time and probably some cash.

After a lot of Pinterest scrolling, I finally found my favorite holiday recipe. I call it “Christmas Crack.” Every time I have it at a party, it is so addictive. I always have to go back for seconds. I found this recipe on grouprecipes.com.

Christmas Crack
Ingredients:
2 bags white chocolate morsels
2 cups of each of the following:
M&M; candies
square pretzels
peanuts
plain Cheerios
Chex cereal

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate morsels slowly until melted. Pour the melted morsels over the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour it all out onto wax paper to about one inch thick. Let it cool and then break it apart. Christmas Crack should be stored in the fridge.

Everything about this was extremely simple. Microwaving and avoiding the oven is probably the best thing about this entire recipe. Basically, if you can measure, then you can make this. I left out the peanuts, and I still thought it tasted great.

This recipe looks very cute if served in a clear wrapping with a bow at the top, and you can put a little tag with it that reads “Reindeer Food” if you want.

As for nutritional value, I cannot imagine any of these ingredients are good for you, considering they are covered in white chocolate. If you have to trick your brain into thinking it is healthy for you, maybe just think about the good nutritional value of peanuts, Cheerios and Chex rice squares.

As much as I love “Christmas Crack,” I was a little disappointed that this recipe just did not seem as up to par with the Christmas Crack that others have made for parties. I would guess that I either needed to add more white chocolate to make sure each of the pieces were equally covered. Or maybe recipes in general just taste better when I am not the one that has to make it. Either way, this recipe is definitely one I will use again and again because it is so easy and just tastes so good.

Whether you are looking for a quick and easy recipe, or a complex concoction to impress your friends, there are tons of recipes for all of your holiday food gift ideas.

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