The first job that I ever had when I was 15 years old was an Oompa Loompa. Okay, so I didn’t work for willy Wonka, but I did make chocolates. I worked at a tiny chocolate shop that specialized in hand painted chocolates. There was every color of chocolates you could imagine and an entire library full of chocolate molds. On days that I worked, I would come in and have a list of orders to be made. I would find the right molds and gather the colors of chocolates needed, start melting and then with a paint brush, I would go to work creating beautiful chocolates. I always thought about how the people who bought these treats never realized how much work went into them. It was quite a task, but the end result was really something to be proud of. Ever since my days of an Oompa Loompa, I have been a bit of a chocolate snob. I love chocolate but I especially love the good stuff! When it comes Christmas time, I love splurging a little and making homemade candies for easy gifts that everyone loves! These candies that I make are not like the labor intensive hand painted ones of my youth, these are super simple and great for little ones to help out with as well!
Jolly Nutty Brittle
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of light corn syrup
1 15 oz. can of mixed nuts
3 T. of butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Lightly butter a cookie sheet and set to the side. In a large pot over high heat combine the water, corn syrup and sugar. Using a wooden spoon, carefully stir the ingredients to combine (I had my 6 year old pull up a stool to add the ingredients and stir, but not for long, this gets really hot!!). Keep stirring until the mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer (cheap at the grocery store). Remove from the heat and quickly stir in your nuts, butter, vanilla and lastly baking soda. Pour the candy out onto your prepared cookie sheet and spread out into an even layer. (Lightly butter the bottom of a large spatula to help you spread it out!) Leave it out to cool to room temperature before breaking into pieces.
3 cups of chocolate chips
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
Line an 8 inch baking dish (square cake pan) with wax paper and set to the side. In a large microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and can of condensed milk. Heat for about 1 minute in the microwave and then remove and stir. If not all melted, repeat in microwave for another minute, remove and stir. When your chocolate is completely melted and combined with the condensed milk, stir in your vanilla and nuts (you could really add anything you want to it at this point, peanut butter, small candies, you name it!). Pour your fudge out into prepared baking dish and spread out into an even layer. Let it cool completely before cutting up into yummy bite (or two bite!) squares.
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 bag of large pretzel rods
peppermint sugar sprinkles (or whatever you have to decorate with!)
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set to the side. In a double boiler (heat proof bowl set over a sauce pan with a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the pan) over high heat, melt the chocolate chips. Once melted, spoon the chocolate over the pretzel rods about half way up (tons of fun for the kids to do!). Lay the covered pretzels onto the prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle with peppermint sugar. Let them sit at room temperature until cool.
To package these goodies fill up clear cellophane bags and tie with festive ribbon (I used an oversized red velvet ribbon to be super fancy!). I like to make gift tags out of old paper grocery bags! Just free hand some stars, punch a hole in the top and string through some crafting twine!