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Regardless of religion or tradition, so many of us have memories of a special treat at the holidays. From ancient ritual to cookie swaps, treats have been a part of celebrations in just about every culture you can name. The holidays are the perfect time to dust off some recipes and engage in a centuries’ old practice of making something sweet for the sweet ones in your life.

 

Caramel & Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Melissa Sturman

Ingredients

  • 1 (14oz) package caramels
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 package of pretzel rods
  • 2 cups of chocolate candy melts (Can be found at Michael’s or at nice cooking stores)
  • Assorted candy, sprinkles, etc. to decorate

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt down the caramel pieces and water on medium-low heat. Stir until smooth.
  2. In another saucepan, melt down the chocolate candy melts over low heat until smooth.
  3. Take a pretzel rod, spoon the caramel over the rod until covered to your satisfaction. Place caramel-dipped pretzel on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, or silpat. Let cool for a few minutes. Repeat with all of the pretzel rods.
  4. Take the caramel-dipped pretzel rod and cover it with chocolate and place it back down on the parchment paper. If you’d like to add crumbled candy or sprinkles, this is the time to do it while the chocolate is still wet.
  5. Let the chocolate set for about 30 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!
  6. For the microwave, melt the caramel and water in the microwave using 1-minute increments, stirring between each minute.
  7. Melt the chocolate using 1-minute increments, stirring between each minute.

 

Peppermint Bark

Melissa Sturman

Ingredients

  • 11 oz Ghirardelli white melting wafers
  • 11 oz Ghirardelli milk chocolate melting wafers
  • 1/2 tsp Peppermint extract
  • 12 Candy canes

Instructions

  1. Place candy canes in food processor and crush.
  2. Line sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Melt milk chocolate in microwave by heating at 50% for 1 minute and stirring until smooth.
  4. Pour milk chocolate into pan and level.
  5. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  6. Melt white chocolate in microwave by heating at 50% for 1 minute and stirring until smooth.
  7. Add peppermint extract to white chocolate.
  8. Pour white chocolate into pan and level.
  9. Pour crushed peppermint over white chocolate.

 

Spitzbuben

Melissa Sturman

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325°. Beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add almond and egg; beat. Add flour and salt; mix.
  2. Transfer dough to a floured surface, form into a disk, roll until ¼” thick. Using one shape with two sizes cut equal quantities of both.
  3.  Transfer to baking sheets, bake cookies until very lightly browned, 10–12 minutes; cool.
  4. Once cooled take the large cookie place a dab of seedless raspberry jam and top with smaller cookie.
  5. Dust stacked cookie with confectioners’ sugar.

 

Chocolate Macadamia Caramel Corn

Melissa Sturman

Ingredients

  • 9 cups popcorn, popped
  • 2 cups whole Macadamia nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 12 oz chocolate, melted
  • Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚F.
  2. Combine the popped corn and Macadamias in a large pan and place in the preheated oven until the syrup is ready.
  3. Butter a large roasting pan and set it aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, butter, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until the mixture turns a rich caramel color and registers 280˚F on a candy thermometer.
  4. Remove the syrup from the stovetop and stir in the baking soda and extracts.
  5. Put the popcorn and Macadamias into the buttered roasting pan. Add the syrup and mix quickly with a fork until completely coated. Bake caramel corn at 200˚F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the carmel corn with sea salt. Turn the caramel corn out onto parchment paper and allow it to cool completely. Break it into pieces.
  6. Separate the caramel corn into two halves. Melt chocolate and dip half of the caramel corn into the chocolate. Sprinkle the chocolate coated pieces with more sea salt and allow the chocolate to harden completely, about 3 to 4 hours.
  7. In a large bowl, mix the chocolate caramel corn with the regular caramel corn. Store the caramel corn in tightly covered containers.