Monday, December 05, 2011

Homemade Holiday Gifts

I love to give homemade treats to friends, neighbors, and other special people at holiday time. Usually the girls and I go crazy baking all our favorite Christmas cookies, and I make up some plates or tins to give away. I'm sure we'll do that too--not to mention the Christmas cookie exchange--but this year we're also making Snowflake Mix.

I got this recipe from an old holiday issue of Midwest Living (whose image I've used, above), although I'm making a few adjustments here. You really don't need an entire package of M&Ms for this recipe, for example. I mean, you may wish to use the entire package, but you may also wish to hide the unused remainder of the bag in the pantry for sudden chocolate cravings while wrapping gifts or addressing Christmas cards, or to garnish the whipped cream on a lovely mug of hot chocolate. For yourself. Alone. With your feet up.

Oh yes! The recipe. It's a festive, delicious make-it-yourself project for kids (with a parent's help, of course), and when wrapped in beribboned cellophane bags or nestled in pretty boxes, it'll be the perfect teacher gift. (It keeps up to a month in the freezer, so make it anytime and save it for the day before Christmas vacation, or whenever you choose to give it away to the saint of a teacher who skillfully manages 23 five-year-olds without raising her voice.) Julia and I made a batch yesterday afternoon, with Christmas carols on the CD player and the weekend's snowfall blanketing the landscape outside. You should, too!

Snowflake Mix
makes roughly 8 to 10 cups


3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup salted, roasted peanuts or honey-roasted peanuts
1-2 cups salted mini pretzel twists
2 12-oz. bags white chocolate morsels
1 cup red and green plain M&Ms or mint M&Ms

Lay a sheet or two of wax or parchment paper out flat on your countertop for later.

Using a very large bowl, mix together the cereals, peanuts, and pretzels. In a large glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate morsels, one bag at a time, following the melting directions that are printed on the package. Working quickly, pour melted white chocolate over snack mix and stir to coat.

Quickly pour mixture onto your wax or parchment paper, spreading it out as best you can. Before it dries, sprinkle M&Ms evenly over the mix, pressing candies gently into the mixture if possible. (Try not to get white chocolate all over the tops of M&Ms; this does not look as pretty as when the M&Ms are nice, bright, clean red and green. If this proves impossible, forget about the pressing-in part and just sprinkle the M&Ms; they'll be OK.)

Let cool and harden for 1 hour. Then break gently into chunks and either store in a well-sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to a month, or distribute into gift bags or boxes to give away immediately.

Or keep it for yourself. Just don't eat it all at once.

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