Christmas Goodies

Christmas baking is one of my favorite things…I love it, and it actually has nothing to do with eating the goodies. There are just so many great recipes to try this time of year! Any of these goodies make great gifts or look gorgeous on a dessert table. Some of these are Christmas traditions for me, others might just have to become traditions.

Beginning with the top row from left to right, Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Mint Oreo Truffles, White Chocolate Peppermint Meringues. Middle Row: Oreo Truffles, Chocolate Mint Candy Cookies (Lets call them like we see them…Andes Mint Cookies), Puppy Chow. Bottom: Peppermint Fudge, Peanut Butter Balls and Peanut Butter Fudge.

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds from Allrecipes

1 egg white

1 teaspoon cold water

4 cups whole almonds

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan. Lightly beat the egg white; add water, and beat until frothy but not stiff. Add the nuts, and stir until well coated. Mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until golden. Allow to cool, then store nuts in airtight containers.
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Mint Oreo Truffles 
1  package Mint Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
Crush cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Add peppermint extract. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet.  Sprinkle with candy sprinkles, crushed peppermint or colored wafer chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.
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Peppermint Meringues from Joy the Baker

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
red gel-paste food coloring

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Put the egg whites and sugar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a pot of simmering water and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Return the bowl to the stand mixer and beat on high until the meringue reaches stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Add the peppermint extract.

Meanwhile, use a small paint brush to paint the inside of a pastry bag fit with a small star tip with 3 stripes of the red food coloring. When the meringue is ready, fill the pastry bag and pipe into quarter sized stars on the prepared sheet pan (Note, the first little bit of meringue to come out of the pastry bag will not have the red stripes because it was inside the tip and not the bag. Pipe it out into a bowl until you see the stripes, then begin piping the stars).

Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes until meringue is crisp but not browned. Let cool on the sheets on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

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Oreo Truffles
1  package Mint Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 8 oz  package Cream Cheese, softened
Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
Crush cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet.  Sprinkle with candy sprinkles, crushed Oreos or colored wafer chocolate
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.
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Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies from Allrecipes
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints
In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, be careful not to overbake. When cookies come out of the oven, Press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute. When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer. For smaller cookies, break mints in half.
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Puppy Chow 
This is my mom’s puppy chow recipe. You can’t use Chex…I’m sorry. There is something about the size of the wholes in Crispix that makes a huge difference in puppy chow. You also don’t have to choose between rice chex or wheat…best of both worlds!
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 box Crispix Cereal
4-6 cups powdered sugar
Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips and butter either over low heat or in the microwave. In a large bowl add chocolate mixture to Crispix and mix until cereal is completely covered in chocolate. Pour powdered sugar and Crispix into a paper grocery bag and shake. * Less shaking may result in more clumps…my brother and I don’t think this is a bad thing.
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White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge from Taste of Home
1-1/2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup butter, softened, divided
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
12 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Line a 9-in. square pan with foil. Grease the foil with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, sour cream and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil; cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 234° (soft-ball stage), about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat; stir in white chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted. Fold in peppermint candy and extract. Pour into prepared pan. Chill until firm.
Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Gently peel off foil; cut fudge into 1-in. squares. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2 pounds.
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Peanut Butter Balls adapted from Allrecipes
I like this recipe because the peanut butter center is smooth.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Combine the melted butter or margarine, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and the vanilla together and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on waxed paper.
In the top half of a double boiler melt the chocolate chips and shortening, stirring constantly. Dip balls into the melted chocolate, until completely covered Place balls on waxed paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm.
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Peanut Butter Fudge from Allrecipes
1/2 cup butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.
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