Sweet treats for gift-giving

Cathi Litzenberger offers some quick, easy and delicious treats to enjoy at home or give as gifts

I’m hear to tell you that there are exactly 30 days ‘til Christmas. Thirty days to get to all the Christmas concerts and school plays; to have all the decorating done, shopping for family and friends, and finishing home made gifts. It’s 30 days for all the baking, wrapping, shipping, cooking, cleaning, getting the tree up…and on it goes until we’re frazzled and exhausted.

Perhaps I’m reflecting on my own ridiculous habits, like why have I been baking 30 varieties of cookies, or a dozen different types of squares or many different candy recipes? I haven’t even started and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And so I’ve resolved to try doing as little as possible this year. Wish me luck.

Today I’m offering two quick candy treats. The first is a creamy, buttery fudge that tastes exactly like real eggnog, but in a condensed, bite-sized version. Christmas bark is a great option when you’re running out of time, and the peanut butter chocolate bark below is a favourite. Give it a try.

Eggnog Fudge

with White Chocolate and Walnuts

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

One (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream

One (12-ounce) package white chocolate chips

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Line the bottom and sides of a 9×9-inch baking pan with two crisscrossing pieces aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each side.

Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, salt and marshmallow cream in a heavy medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for five minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the white chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add the bourbon, rum, vanilla and nutmeg. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for one hour.  Using the ends of the foil as handles, lift the fudge out of the pan. Cut the fudge into 1-inch pieces.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bark

16 ounces white chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups peanut butter

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Grease a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.

Mix white chocolate chips and peanut butter together in a microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave until half-melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir.

Place semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave until half-melted, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread peanut butter mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Evenly distribute melted semi-sweet chocolate over peanut butter mixture. Using the tip of a sharp knife, drag semi-sweet chocolate through peanut butter mixture, making a marble-pattern.  Refrigerate until set, 30 minutes to 2 hours. Cut into pieces and store in an air-tight container.

Note: Make this recipe even better by adding some of your favourite treats. Try adding some peanut butter cups, or M&M’s for an even more delicious treat!

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

 

 

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