Sweet Tweets

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Southern Suggestions: Christmas Treats Tradition

I definitely relish traditions. They don't have to be long-standing, in fact, I've started several myself and they have become yearly rituals. It's not the amount of time we've been doing a particular tradition, it's more about the fact that I get to look forward to it and experience them that make them special. As a family that moved every so many years, we came up with new routines often, and held onto a few no matter the location.

One tradition that I have enjoyed and grown into is holiday treat making. Mom and I usually get together for a weekend afternoon and bake several different kinds of cookies, make Christmas candy and sometimes throw in something savory to balance all the sweetness out. Here are my top 3 that I like to see make an appearance every Christmas.

Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies - These are actually very easy to make, and aren't the typical sugar cookies that you see on every dessert tray. You can either make your own peanut butter cookie dough or buy the store version. (Hey, I'm all about enjoying things, and if there is a shortcut that looks and tastes similar to something that would take even Martha Stewart an inordinate amount of time, I say go with the store version.) Use miniature muffin tins, and either line them with paper muffin cups or spray them lightly with cooking spray. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and plop one into each cup. Bake them for ~10 minutes (or how long the package says to normally cook them) and while they are baking unwrap the miniature Reece's peanut butter cups. Once the cookies are slightly brown, take them out of the oven and immediately push one peanut butter cup in the middle of each cookie ball. They will sink down in it and be surround by the cookie. You will need to let them cool before trying to remove them from the tin since the peanut butter cups get gooey from the heat of the cookie. I remember having the job of wrapper remover as a little girl and loved getting to push the cups into the warm and pillowy cookie dough.

Peppermint Crunch Bark - The main ingredients for this are red and green peppermint crunch pieces and white chocolate almond bark. The peppermint crunch can be a bit hard to find, but they are usually at local cake decorating and specialty candy stores. You melt down the almond bark (a double boiler works well) and then add the crunch to it, mixing it in evenly. It helps to have someone else assisting you when it's time to pour out the batch onto a 3 foot long sheet of wax paper. Take a wooden spoon or spatula and evenly spread out the mixture over the wax paper. We have found a great short cut is to put a tray or cookie sheet under the wax paper and then transfer the sheets outside to a table where it can set up faster. This only applies to when it's chilly outside. Once it's set, you break the candy sheets into 3-4 inch pieces and you have Christmas candy!

Ranch Oyster Crackers - A savory snack that will give you a break from the endless sweets of the holidays! You mix oyster crackers with oil, a packet of dry Ranch dressing, a few other spices and herbs, bake them for ten minutes on a cookie sheet and you're done! I'm so glad that Mom brought back this old favorite this year!

So, what is your favorite treat tradition that you do at Christmastime?

2 Remarks:

Natalie said...

I love Chex "Puppy chow" at Christmas and my Mom's Spiced Tea!

Leslie said...

Definitely "Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal No Bake Cookies"... I just made six dozen of them to give away as gifts...

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cooking-live/chocolate-peanut-butter-no-bake-cookies-recipe/index.html

But I use YooHoo instead of milk :)