Last Minute Holiday Treats

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I like to give homemade treats for the holidays.  I get the cute little tins and fill them with goodies.  This year the kids handed some out to our whole neighborhood of 2 dozen houses, plus teachers, friends, the mailman, and even our pediatrician’s office.

It’s nice to have a variety of treats, but it’s a pain to make a large quantity of a lot of different things.  I kept it pretty easy this year.  I made some of The Best Cookies Ever.  They are a variation on spritz cookies, so they work up quickly.  If you don’t have a cookie press, you could always make the dough and then form balls and press them on to a cookie sheet with a half pecan on top.  Yum.  And then I made fudge and turtles.  The easy way.  And threw in some mints for good measure.

I’m not a food blogger or a food photographer.  I didn’t come up with either of these recipes, but they are so easy I have to share them.  Each requires only 3 ingredients and a few minutes of time and turns out beautifully.

Microwave Fudge

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I first found a variation of this recipe in a kids’ microwave cookbook when I was young.  I made it as a Christmas gift for my teachers and my dad’s coworkers.  It was always appreciated and nobody ever believes it’s made in the microwave with only 3 (or 2!) ingredients.  There are so many variations of the recipe out there.

Here is what I do: mix 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the contents of a 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk in a large microwave safe bowl.  Microwave until soft (90 seconds for our microwave,) add a splash of vanilla (optional) and mix well.  Pour into a greased 8×8 pan, cool fully, and cut into 1″ squares.

It is stable at room temperature (doesn’t melt) and will keep for a week or two.  If you have the self control of a saint, put it in the fridge so it lasts longer.

Some recommend lining the pan with aluminum foil.  I like to just use an aluminum pan.  It gets all bent out of shape, but it’s easier, and yields a nicer result, than using an aluminum lining.

I like to get creative with the fudge.  It’s easy to add walnuts or pecans or make it from white/milk chocolate/peanut butter chips instead.  Sometimes I make half with semi-sweet chocolate and half with another kind an layer them.  I like to use the little meltable chocolatey disks (like Candy Melts) for the top layer and flavor them with peppermint or raspberry extract.  This year I just made chocolate and chocolate peppermint.

Note (12/22/16): I just made a batch with a chopped up 72% dark Trader Joe’s pound plus chocolate bar (17.6 oz.)  It is decadent, and way darker than the fudge made with semi-sweet chips.  I imagine you could use any other solid, quality chocolate.  Chocolate chips are just convenient.

Pretzel Turtles

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This recipe is widely available, too, including on the bag of Rolos I bought to make them this week!  Here is the official recipe.  I like to use the little square pretzels.  They are really fast and easy, but I wouldn’t say it only takes 3 minutes, like the recipe does.  Unwrapping all the Rolos takes a while.  And they are amazing.  I don’t usually like salt in candy, or anything really, but it works so well in these.

Hopefully, when the kids are all a little older we can do a few big batches of cut-out gingerbread cookies.  We’ll make some for us on Christmas Eve, but there was no way were could make enough for the almost 4-dozen treat gifts we gave out this year.

And, because pictures love to lie, we used cardboard treat boxes for the neighborhood for budget reasons.  They were still really cute, though.  And I packaged the treats separately in plastic baggies so the cookies would stay nice and crisp.  But they photograph a lot better loose in the tin.

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