Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. The weeks of waiting and preparation draw to a close. In churches around the world today, the circle of candles adorning Advent wreaths will be lit, reflecting Christ’s light and hope.
Tomorrow our family leaves for a week in the Midwest to spend time with family. Final preparations will be made today to make sure the clothes are clean for packing, the Christmas presents are safely tucked into bags, and the right munchies are purchased for nibbling in the car.
Speaking of nibbling, I have never written a post about some of my favorite Christmas goodies. Two requirements for “repeat” Christmas recipes in my house are ease of preparation and the cookie or candy must be universally liked. While I scour the holiday magazines each year for new inspiration and will try one or two new recipes, I find myself returning to these tried and true favorites year after year. Perhaps you will find one of these treats becoming a favorite too.
Chocolate Peppermint Bark
So I’m a little embarrassed to list the ingredients for this candy because it is so easy. All you need are some semi-sweet baking squares, some almond bark, and a few candy canes. Melt the two chocolates in the microwave and pour strips of melted chocolate onto parchment paper. Swirl with a small spatula to blend the chocolates and to create a pretty pattern. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top and, presto, you have bark. You can add other toppings as well—pretzels, dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin seeds, other bits of crushed chocolate—you get the idea.
Another favorite involving melted chocolate is dipped pretzels. I prefer white chocolate for this recipe. Again, melt almond bark (To the food aficionados out there, I know Almond Bark is not real white chocolate, but bear with me.) in a microwave. Dip small pretzels (I like the bow-shaped kind) into the chocolate and cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet. For added effect, you can drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top too. The mix of sweet and salty is divine!
Finally, Peanut Blossoms are a favorite cookie in our house. For this recipe, you mix together a basic peanut butter cookie. After the cookies bake, you drop a Hershey Kiss on top of each one. Now that Hershey makes so many varieties of Kisses, you have options. For a person who likes to try different recipes all the time, I am pretty standard for this recipe. After all, what is better than peanut butter and chocolate?
I did plan to venture out a bit more in my Christmas baking this year, but so far I have only managed fudge, which is so easy! Somehow I have childhood memories of candy thermometers and temperamental fudge that didn’t set. What I made required some stove-top melting and then pouring the mixture into a greased pan. Only after I poured the fudge did I recall the great tip to line the pan with greased foil for easy cutting and removal. Brilliant!
I would love to hear some of your favorite Christmas goodies. In the meantime, happy baking and eating!