Technically you can make a chocolate bark by melting chocolate and throwing whatever you like in it. While you may really like the taste of anchovies and crushed Kit Kats, I am thinking the recipients of your holiday bark may prefer something a little more mainstream and festive. Even though I have made many a different bark over the years, this peppermint marble bark is my go to favorite.
I use Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate and Baker’s White Chocolate if I can find it. Most stores don’t seem to carry the white chocolate, and if not I prefer to use Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips. This recipe has a really great taste and I recommend sticking with the semi-sweet chocolate, and sticking with the Baker’s brand. You will need 1 package of each.
Not only is this a great tasting and impressive looking bark, it allows you to get out some of your holiday frustrations. You will need a cup of crushed candy canes or peppermint starlight candies and the best way to crush them, is to smash them. I put a bunch in a plastic bag and have at them with a wooden mallet. Instant stress relief. And an instant mess if you use a thin plastic bag.
Once you are done annihilating your mints, line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Microwave the semi-sweet and white chocolates in separate bowls. Start with a minute, stir the chocolate, and continue in 30 second intervals until melted. Be careful with the white chocolate because it can burn easily.
Stir half of the crushed mints into each bowl of chocolate. Drop spoonfuls of each chocolate close to each other on the baking sheet and smooth the chocolate to the thickness you prefer. Once all the chocolate is laid out, use a knife to swirl the chocolates together to marbleize them.
Refrigerate the bark until firm, and then just break into pieces. Store in an air tight container.
It’s time to get dippin’, chocolate dippin’ that is! There is just something so good about the combination of salty and sweet that makes pretzels and chocolate the perfect match. I have been chocolate dipping pretzels at Christmas time for longer than I can remember. I know that doesn’t say much these days, but neighbors and friends have been receiving chocolate dipped treats from me for years and years. They are such and easy, impressive, and yummy treat to serve or give to others as a gift.
Some years I use small twists, large twists, small rods, long rods, or a combination. I have dipped them in milk chocolate and drizzled melted white chocolate on top, and vice versa. I have used sprinkles, jimmies, mini chocolate chips, Christmas tree sprinkles, crushed candy canes, and probably other toppings as well. There are so many ways to make these pretzels that you can just be creative and do whatever you wish.
If you can’t find real chocolate melting wafers, you can always find the bags of assorted flavors and colors of melting wafers at your local craft store. I find it is much easier to use these than it is to use chocolate chips or another kind of baking chocolate because they melt better. It also won’t harden as quickly giving you more time to work. If the chocolate in the bowl does start to harden, just pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and it will loosen up.
The tap, tap, tapping sound of the pretzel on the side of the bowl as you let the excess chocolate drip off becomes quite therapeutic, especially when you are on your 567th pretzel. Often times when you get a little too relaxed the pretzel will break which just means “seconds” for your family, which I can assure you they won’t mind.
Lay each pretzel down gently on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. I usually dip a few and then add the toppings. Make sure to add whatever topping you choose before the chocolate sets. Once I have a cookie sheet full, I just put them in the refrigerator for a little while.
They don’t need to be in there long before you can remove them and store them in an air tight container. My chocolate dipped goodies are usually the first item I make out of my holiday baking because they keep longer than cookies will.
On years when I’m feeling a little crazy, I also dip other items such as Oreos or graham crackers. I have also dipped large marshmallows and stuck them onto the tip of candy cane sticks. So many possible dippers!
Every year my mother along with many other Italians, make their Italian Anise Cookies around the holidays. They always looked so good, and I always wished I liked them. I really wanted to like them, and every few years I would try one to see if maybe my aversion to anise flavoring had dissipated. I do have some Italian blood in me so I should like them, right? Wrong. So years ago I decided to stop trying, and to find a similar looking Italian cookie without that awful anise taste.
I tried a few different recipes before I found a fantastic recipe for Anginetti, or Italian Lemon Drop Cookies. I am not even sure where I found this recipe, but it has been a Christmas staple cookie every year since. The cookie itself has a very subtle lemon taste, and the icing looks like the regular white icing on the anise cookies, but has lemon extract. Yum.
This dough gets very sticky, and I have found over the years that they look better if you roll the dough into balls in your hands as opposed to using a cookie scoop or dropping them by teaspoonfuls.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps. lemon extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and shortening. Add eggs and lemon extract and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Drop dough onto a slightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until firm and lightly brown. Allow to cool completely on wire racks.
Once the cookies are cooled, I prefer to dip the cookies upside down into the icing as opposed to frosting them. The cookies look nicer this way.
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. lemon extract
Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. If too loose, add more confectioners sugar. If too stiff, add more water in tiny increments.
Before the icing sets completely, I add some holiday sprinkles on top.
Your fellow anise hating cookie lovers will thank you. #saynotoanise 😉
These melting snowmen cookies bring instant smiles to children and adults. They actually make me giggle, but I am easily amused. I am not going to lie though, they are a pain in the neck to make, but the reaction you get from them is worth it. When you are about to make these cookies set yourself out a chunk of time, put on some music, and pour yourself a large cup of coffee because you are in it for the long haul. I’m exaggerating slightly, but they are time consuming.
I found this recipe on-line years ago, but after many different attempts at making these I have settled on a slightly different version. If you look you on-line you will see that people do these all different ways. However, I think mine are the best 😉
I know I have said before that I always make my cookies from scratch, but these are my one exception. If this recipe was the only cookie I was making I may be tempted to make a homemade sugar cookie, but I make so many different varieties around the holidays that I just cut corners on this one. They take so long to put together and they are more about the cuteness than about the taste anyway.
So the first thing I do is cut open the roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough and bake the cookies. Once they are done they need to cool completely before decorating. The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the cookies hours or even a day before and decorate them when you are ready.
You will need a bag of large marshmallows for the heads. They look better if you cut off one end of the marshmallow. Since I hate to waste food, I usually munch on the ends that aren’t needed. Or you could save them and put them in hot chocolate? I prefer to just eat them.
Once those are done you will need orange sprinkles long enough to be the carrot nose. If you can’t find just orange sprinkles, you will need to fish through a container of colored sprinkles which is what I typically end up doing. Even though I have seen multicolored carrots before, I haven’t yet gotten to the point where my snowmen have had purple and yellow noses. All you need to do is push the orange sprinkle into the marshmallow far enough until it stays.
When I first tried making these cookies I used black decorator’s gel for the eyes and mouth. Personally I find that it is not only easier to use a food marker, but I think it looks better. By food marker I do not mean a Sharpie, they sell edible markers at craft stores. I like to make a circle for the mouth to give it a “oh no I’m melting” look. You could make a smiley face, but I’m pretty sure that snowmen would not be too happy about melting. Frosty never seemed to be anyway.
Now it’s time to make the melting snow. The first year I made these cookies I used a store bought icing. The next year I purchased a different icing that didn’t work well, and instead of running out to the store I decided to just make my own icing instead. That is what I have continued to do since then.
Mix together 1 cup of confectioners sugar and 2 tsps. milk until smooth. Beat in 2 tsps. of corn syrup until it looks smooth and glossy. If it is too thick, add a little more corn syrup.
I use a spoon to drop some icing onto one side of the cookie, and then tilt the cookie while turning it so that it looks like melted snow. I also like to let a little run off of the sides. Make sure to stick on the marshmallow heads before the icing sets, the icing acts as a glue to hold the heads in place. Make sure the icing really sets before you finish decorating.
Originally I also tried using black gel for the arms but had difficulty with those as well, and decided to just use the food markers. I am not really sure why I seem to have so much difficulty with such things, maybe it’s just me. If you are more skilled than I am with decorator’s frosting or gel, you may decide to use that instead. If you decide to use the food markers, you have to use a very light touch because it cracks through the icing.
The last step is using gel to make a scarf. Then let the smiles and giggles begin!
Ho Ho Ho! It’s December, which means it’s time to start thinking about Holiday baking! I love to bake around the holidays, and it has been a tradition for years and years. I change things around some years, but I have my favorites and this is one of them. They are adorable, and so delicious! You need a round brownie, some cream cheese frosting, strawberries, and that’s it! The three flavors go so well together.
If you don’t have a small muffin pan, you could bake them in a rectangular pan and cut them into circles. Personally, this way is much easier and worth the money for the pan. When I try to cut anything into circles I always end up with hexagons, octagons, basically some kind of “gon” but not a circle. I must have been too busy chatting that day in Kindergarten.
My “go to” brownie recipe is the One Bowl Brownie recipe that comes inside the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate Box. It is one of the best that I have found, and it only uses one bowl. It’s a win win. You could use store bought brownies or a brownie mix, but this recipe is so easy that it really is worth making homemade.
Once the brownies are done and cooled, you pipe some cream cheese frosting onto the tops to look like the fur trim on Santa’s hat. If you have a frosting bag, you can choose a fancier tip if you prefer. One of these days I will invest in a frosting bag, but until then I just use a sandwich bag with one edge cut off. It makes an absolute mess this way, and if you are like me you will be covered in frosting. However, I can definitely think of worse things to be covered in than cream cheese frosting.
I have shared my cream cheese frosting recipe before, but here it is again. I can pretty much guarantee you will not be upset that you might have to lick some of this frosting off of your hands.
Cream Cheese Frosting – Beat 1/2 cup softened butter with 8 oz. softened block cream cheese with electric mixer. Beat in about 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Add 1 1/2 tsps. vanilla and beat until creamy. Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if not sweet enough.
Once the brownies are frosted, you cut the tops off of the strawberries and stick one on each brownie. Add a little bit of frosting on the tip to make the fur pom pom, and you are done.
One thing to be aware of, the red juice from the strawberries might run into the frosting the longer they are kept refrigerated. They look best if made soon before serving.
I can’t wait to make these this year, and I just might ask Santa for a frosting bag 🙂
This is hands down one of my favorite cookie recipes! My grandmother used to make these on occasion, but I never liked them because typically they are a hard, dry cookie. Years ago I found this recipe, and these are melt in your mouth good! What could be better than a soft vanilla butter cookie?
I make these every year for Christmas, but Kouourakia is a traditional Greek Easter cookie. Sometimes I make them for Easter as well. Sometimes I just make them for the heck of it! If you prefer a crispier cookie, cook them for the recommended length of time on the recipe. Since I don’t like crispy cookies, I only bake them for about 10-11 minutes until the bottoms are brown. Trust me, although a little time consuming, this recipe is worth it and everyone that tries them will love them.
If the dough is really difficult to work with and keeps sticking to your fingers, just refrigerate it first. I often split the dough in half so that the half I am not working with can stay in the refrigerator until I am ready for it.
Take a little dough (the recipe states walnut size), make it into a ball in your hands, then roll it along the cutting board with the palm of your hand until it makes a long roll. Then I shape them into S’s and braids. You can put them fairly close together on the cookie sheet as they don’t increase much in size. Then be prepared to not be able to stop eating them once you start. So good!