One of my favorite activities around Christmas is baking Christmas cookies either by myself, with my mom or with my mom, sisters and nephews.
Growing up my mom made dozens and dozens of cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas day. Our freezers - yes, I said freezers - were full of delicious treats all through December. My parents have two large freezers mainly to store the meat - pork and beef - that they used to get several times a year. Since Dad quit raising hogs several years ago, there's no more pork (sad face) so there's more room for cookies!
She would use these cookies as gifts for our teachers, for my dad's landlords, for our family and friends, and for dessert at holiday parties.
Now some of the cookies have endured...continually being made year after year, such as the Spritz cookies, Dainty Logs and Magic Bars. Some have been phased out as trends come and go. The butter cookies colored green and rolled out to look like wreaths with a cherry at the top (to look like the bow) haven't been made for years.
I'll be highlighting some of my favorite cookies as we start to make them this year.
However, I started with a newer addition to the Christmas cookie line-up that isn't a cookie at all, but a cute little candy-like treat. I have no clue what they are called, I certainly didn't come up with the idea myself, so I'm calling them Simple Pretzel Kiss Candies.
You need pretzels, Hershey's Kisses and M&Ms. That's it!
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You don't have to do this but I am lazy so I don't worry about chocolate sticking to the pan this way.
Lay out several rows of pretzels. You can use the mini twist or the waffle shaped pretzels. (Sorry for quality of the photos. All I had was my Blackberry.)
Unwrap some Hershey's Kisses and set them on top of the pretzels. I normally use the milk chocolate Kisses and M&Ms, but I thought I'd go crazy and try the dark chocolate Mint Truffle Kisses and mint M&Ms this time.
Put them in the oven for at least 3 minutes. Test if they are ready by pushing an M&M in the middle of one of the Kisses. If it doesn't go straight down as the Kiss collapses into itself, it's not ready. There's really no "baking time" for these, you just have to watch them.
Unfortunately, I forgot that dark chocolate melts differently than milk chocolate (a little more liquidy) and that the truffle Kisses have two layers so the middle part of the didn't melt at the same rate as the outside layer!
So I decided to NOT use the M&Ms with these and they turned out nicely without the extra touch.
Here's what the milk chocolate Kiss and M&M ones look like. Yummy!
These take a LONG time to harden back up so don't try to package them up too quickly!
The sweet and salty combination make these kind of addictive. If you want a different twist, substitute mini Rolos and pecans and you have a bite-sized turtle treat.
Baby Sister is hosting a Cookie Exchange this weekend and I decided to make several types of "candy" as my contribution and this was the first batch. I'm going to attempt a candy featuring Saltines - yes, the cracker - that was talked about at a recent meeting I attended, as well as some crockpot candy. I may whip up a batch of my favorite white chocolate covered snack mix if I have time.
Regardless of what I make, I have to have 10 dozen of SOMETHING by Sunday.
So, stay tuned!