It is, of course, de rigueur to pile the holiday dessert sideboard with homemade cakes and cookies. But there’s a third “C” often overlooked for hand-crafted and merry delights. Candy.
Just as welcome as cake or cookies made in your kitchen, homemade candy is also proof to family and friends that goodies from the heart embody the spirit of the season. Plus, candies are usually easier to place in a colorful tin, or glass container, or bag to stick in stockings, as a hostess gift, or that, “oh no, my Auntie’s coming and I have no present for her” moment.
Rather than use the market or drugstore candy aisles to fill pretty dishes with after-dinner sweets, save money and use these easy-to-craft Christmas candy recipes instead. Nothing difficult here so invite the kids to help you and ask Alexa or Siri to play seasonal music in the background while you’re in the kitchen. It could become a new tradition.
Not a candy, but an easy to make last-minute treat
Vanilla frosting (from a can or homemade)
Black icing gel
Rinse the strawberries, then cut off and discard the leaves. Cut the pointed end off of each strawberry. Place the newly cut edge down on a clean napkin or paper towel. The napkin will absorb the fresh strawberry juice, which is what you want. The “body” of Santa needs to be quickly dabbed on a fresh paper towel as well. The fruit’s juice will cause the frosting to slide. By letting the paper towel absorb the fresh strawberry juice, the frosting will stay in place better.
Put vanilla frosting in a piping bag (or in a zip lock bag and cut the corner off). Gently swirl some vanilla frosting on the top of the body. Place the “Santa hat” (the strawberry tip) on top of the frosting. Add a dab of frosting on top of his hat. Finally, carefully add two eyes with black icing.
CHRISTMAS CARAMEL CRACKLE CANDY
Part candy, part cookie, fully delightful
1/2 C light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 whole graham crackers
1 C milk or dark or mixed chocolate chips
1/2 C white chocolate chips
Christmas colored sprinkles for decorating
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the graham crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet, arranging them to fit. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring butter, brown sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture over the crackers and spread it evenly, making sure all the crackers are covered. Bake 8 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return to oven for 2 minutes more, or until chocolate is well softened. Evenly spread the melted chocolate over the crackers.
In a microwave safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips 30 to 60 seconds or until melted and smooth. Using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over top. Decorate with holiday sprinkles.
Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes or until candy is firm. Break into pieces and serve. Depending on size of breakups, there will be about two dozen candies. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Frosty’s been playing in the snow again
2 C white chocolate chips
1Tbls vegetable oil
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
Line a 10- x 15-inch baking sheet with wax paper. Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium heat-proof glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and oil. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring 1-inch of water to boil. Use potholders to quickly, but carefully, place the glass bowl on top of small saucepan. You are effectively making a double boiler. The glass bowl should not rest on the bottom of the saucepan.
Heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the heated chocolate over the cereal and toss until evenly coated. Place cereal on the lined baking sheet and let cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve. Makes about 8 cups of bubbles.
Tip: Add colorful confetti sprinkles to the sugar for a stylish holiday sprinkle.
OREO PEPPERMINT FUDGE
Sweet, festive, kid-pleaser
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter
1 pkg white chocolate chips
7 oz Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 C Andes Peppermint Crunch Bits
10-12 Oreos (try the holiday Oreos with red filling) crushed
Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper. This keeps the fudge from sticking to the pan. Put the white chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff in a big bowl. Set aside.
In a medium to large pan melt the sugar, heavy cream, salt and butter on medium heat until it starts to boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Pour the hot mixture into the bowl of chocolate chips and use a mixer to process until it’s smooth and soft. Mix in half of the peppermint Crunch Bits and all the crushed Oreos. Pour into your parchment-lined pan.
Sprinkle the rest of the peppermint crunch bits on the top. Press down on the fudge a bit to evenly distribute. Put in the fridge for 3-5 hours to set. Will cut into about 16 squares.
by Jean Redstone