This week’s tip: Make your own peppermint bark and candied nuts to give as gifts this holiday season!
Peppermint bark and candied nuts are great gifts for teachers, co-workers, neighbors, and more. They are both easy to make and absolutely delicious! I first posted these recipes last year, and wanted to share them again for anyone who is looking for holiday treat ideas. The recipes are below. Enjoy!
Peppermint Chocolate Bark
There is really nothing easier than making your own peppermint bark. It can literally be made in 25 minutes, and 15 of those are waiting for it to harden. Peppermint and chocolate are such a delicious combination and most everyone I know just adores it. I also include it in my Christmas and New Years dessert spread and it was a big hit last year.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (ensure it will fit into the freezer).
Crush the candy canes and ensure you are left with non-uniform pieces (there should be a mixture of dust and small to medium pieces). To do this, place in a food storage bag and crush (I use a meat tenderizer). Since candy canes can be different sizes, ensure your crushed candy canes measure about 1/4 cup.
Place the chocolate chips in a double broiler over medium heat (don't let the water boil underneath). Melt the chocolate and stir as needed. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 of the crushed candy canes.
Pour the chocolate mixture onto the parchment paper and smooth out evenly to 1/4 inch thickness. Evenly sprinkle the remaining crushed candy cane on top. Place the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden.
Remove and break up into desired sizes and shapes. Store away from heat or direct sunlight in a sealed container. It also stores well in the fridge until ready to eat. You can make this several days ahead.
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Maple Cinnamon Cashews
Last year I wanted to come up with my own candied nut recipe. It took me several tries to come up with something that was unique and delicious, and also fairly simple to make. These nuts are soft, sweet, salty, and have a delicious hint of cinnamon. The maple flavor mixed with the cashews is addictive.
1/4 tsp. plus 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (used separately)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet and cooling rack with parchment paper. Mix 1/4 tsp. cinnamon with sugar and set aside.
Place the maple syrup in a pot over medium heat (I use stainless steel). Once it boils and begins to foam, add the remaining cinnamon, salt, and vanilla extract, stirring well after each addition. Let boil for about 1 minute, and then add cashews and stir. Return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Stirring frequently, let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the syrup mixture begins to thicken.
Pour the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out into a single layer. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the nuts, and then place in the oven. After 7 to 8 minutes, remove and stir the nuts around (the syrup should be golden brown and bubbly). Place back in the oven for 1 to 2 additional minutes.
Stir around the nuts, and place on a parchment-lined cooling rack in a single layer. Let sit until cooled, and then break apart. Store in an airtight container.
Zoale LLC Copyright 2015
Stay tuned on Thursday for a super delicious and rich Greek dessert, which is perfect for the holidays!