Easy Christmas Treats

Every year one of the advent activities that my boys and I do together is make peppermint bark and toffee.  We use it as gifts, but we also just like to eat it.  Yum.  So, in the spirit of Christmas giving (and because I had to find the recipes anyway), I’m sharing these super simple recipes with you.  Really, both of these recipes are VERY easy and you can make them… or I’m just extremely lucky or gifted (?).

Now, if you’ve read any of my blog posts at all, you already know that I am not a perfectionist when it comes to cooking… or knitting… or, okay, really I’m just not a perfectionist.  However, I do recognize that there are a number of detail people out there, so I’ve included the recipes I use as well as the methods I use, with the glaring disparities between the two pointed out.  Adjust accordingly.

Peppermint bark
Melt a 12oz package of white chocolate chips (I do it in the microwave on low heat for about 5 minutes).  While the chocolate is melting, smash a bunch of candy canes.  Sprinkle the candy canes pieces into the melted chocolate and stir it up.  Then spread the chocolate & candy cane mixture on wax paper and sprinkle with more candy cane pieces to decorate the top.  Once it has cooled completely, you can break it into pieces and it’s ready to serve.

Best Toffee Ever (from allrecipes.com)
2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped nuts

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted.  Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees.  Stir occasionally.

While the toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften.  Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.  Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and press in slightly.  Putting a plastic bag over your hand will minimize the mess.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set.  Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

(Kelly’s disclaimer- as I said, I am not a detail person, as you can tell by my peppermint bark recipe… so, on the almond bark:  1) I did not use a heavy bottomed saucepan, just a copper bottom pan, 2) I didn’t have a thermometer, so just went with the color, and 3) I didn’t put a plastic bag on my hand and push in the nuts- I pushed them down a bit with my wooden spoon.  The details may matter and I may have just gotten lucky with my batch, so do what you need to for your own personality!)

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