Guest Post: Holiday Treats

Please welcome former Creative Team member Jennifer Perks as this week’s guest blogger!

peppermint-plated2

Years ago, I had my first taste of peppermint bark that one of the high-end kitchen stores sells every year. Determined to make my own for much less, I started searching for different recipes online. I tried many, and eventually found one by Rita Heikenfeld that I tweaked a bit to my liking.  It’s quick, easy, and makes a great gift. With the holidays fast approaching, I thought I’d share!

Peppermint Bark

12 oz chocolate chips
1 pound white chocolate
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup peppermint candy, crushed
Preheat oven to 250°. Line a 9×13″ pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides. Lightly spray foil. Pour the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted. Remove from oven, smooth with an offset spatula or knife. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water), until chocolate is almost melted. Remove bowl from water and stir until completely melted, stirring in extract. Let cool a little bit so it doesn’t melt the chocolate layer when you pour it on top. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover. Sprinkle with crushed candy.
Chill until both layers are firm. Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy. Trim edges. Cut into 2” wide strips. Peel bark from foil and cut each strip as desired. Chill in covered container. Makes about 2 pounds.

Easy, right? I can never get the top spread as perfectly smooth as the store-bought stuff, but I figure that just makes it look like the homemade bark that it is. For the chocolate, I prefer the Bittersweet by Ghiradelli. And for the white chocolate, avoid the white “chips” (they didn’t melt well when I tried it, which was frustrating). Look for White Chocolate bars (like Ghiradelli White Chocolate Baking Bars (in the baking aisle) or Lindt White Chocolate (in the candy bar aisle). I know this sounds obvious, but it goes without saying…the higher quality the chocolate, the better the peppermint bark.

I tend to make this every year for teacher gifts. Each year, I have fun with different packaging. Always I aim for fast and easy, since my kids (at least when they were all in daycare) tend to have a lot of teachers.  Here are just a few ideas:

You can add ribbon and a tag to a store-bought jar:

jar

I designed the tag in Adobe Illustrator. Printed and punched out using a circle punch. Punched a snowflake out of the center. Glittered the tag, and tied ribbon to the jar. (These were made before I found the recipe with the dark chocolate base).

SOURCES Jar: IKEA. Punches: EK Success (circle, snowflake), McGill Inc. (hole). Glitter: Martha Stewart Crafts. Ribbon: Offray (red grosgrain), Stampin’ Up! (silver).

Another option is to dress up a cellophane treat bag:

cellophane bag

I cut a piece of red cardstock 4-1/4” wide by 5-1/2” tall and folded it in half lengthwise. I then punched the bottom edges with a decorative punch and ran it through my Cuttlebug using an embossing folder to make the polka dot pattern.

I stapled the folded cardstock over the bag in two spots to keep it closed. Then hid the staples with some ribbon.  Last, I added the holly sprig and tag, which I cut out using the Joys of the Season cartridge and my Cricut.  I outlined the edge of the tag with a red pen and added red “berries” using self-adhesive red pearls.  In hindsight, it might have been nice to run the holly sprig through my embosser, as well, to give it some texture. There’s always next time!

If you you don’t have a Cricut, you could add other seasonal elements, like a big jingle bell, instead of the holly, use a store-bought tag or decorate a tag with a stamp.

SOURCES Cellophane bags, ribbon: Michaels Stores. Cardstock: Bazzill Basics Paper (red, green), Stampin’ Up! (white). Pearls: Queen & Company. Pen: Stampin’ Up!. Punch: Martha Stewart Crafts. Die-cutting tool, embossing tool: Provo Craft.

Get the kids involved:

paper bag

My 7-year-old LOVES crafts, and has fully endorsed this one. :-)

Here, we took an 8-5/8” tall white paper bag, put the peppermint bark (wrapped in a cellophane treat bag) inside, ran a single brown pipe cleaner through one side and out the other, and tied it loosely shut around the middle with a “scarf” cut out of felt. To finish off the “sticks,” we cut another pipe cleaner in half and wrapped one around each “arm.” For the head, we added bunched tissue paper above the scarf line and stapled the bag shut (not the prettiest, but it did the job).

The hat is an old mismatched sock we found in my 3-year-old’s sock drawer. It made the perfect cover for the stapled top. We found a big white pom pom in one of our craft drawers, which I helped sew onto the end.

Last, my daughter added the nose (cut from one of those wavy looking pipe cleaners and pushed through the bag), self-adhesive pearls for the eyes and mouth, and buttons for the cheeks and down the front.

This went together really fast and my daughter loved it (I’m thinking she’s going to hang onto this one!).

SOURCES Paper bag: Michaels Stores. Buttons: Rusty Pickle (pink); Autumn Leaves (blue). Pompom, chenille sticks: Westrim Crafts. Pearls: Queen & Company. Felt: Hobby Lobby.

Hope this inspires you to whip up some holiday treats of your own!

Categories: Scraps | Tags:
11 Comments

11 Responses to “Guest Post: Holiday Treats”

  1. This is just too cute! I LOVE snowmen and he is adorable! I think I’m going to try your peppermint bark recipe! I love peppermint! Thanks for sharing with us. Have a Merry Christmas!

  2. We make peppermint bark for the teachers every year. And now that my kids are older, they also give it out to their friends (some even ask for it, remembering from last year). It’s a huge hit! And so easy. I like the idea of letting the chocolate harden before putting the white chocolate on top. We’re making ours tonight and will try that. Another thing that kicks it up a notch is to add the peppermint dust to the white chocolate. You know when you pound the peppermint candies, you always have dust? Sift it out and mix with the white chocolate before spreading. To die for!

  3. Think I will have my 2nd graders make something like this for their families! Just need to think of something non-food to put in the bottom to give a little weight… Thanks for the cute idea!

  4. Wow, the peppermint bark looks tasty! Thanks for sharing your recipe!! I’m going to make some today while my breads and cookies are baking. Nice touch for giving. ;D

    The snowman is cute too! :D

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