(Featured Recipes: Extra-Chocolaty Nutty Pretzel Rods, Dark Chocolate Truffle Petit Fours, Truffle Pops, & More)
‘Tis the season to be jolly…so let’s spread some jolly good cheer this Christmas. And, of course, spreading good cheer isn’t something to do only during the Christmas season, it’s something we can do all year long. Whenever we have the opportunity to encourage someone and to help brighten their day (even if only in some small way), then we should do so. There are so many who could use some words of encouragement or even just a polite greeting presented with a warm, beaming smile. We don’t always know the challenging circumstances others are facing- but the kindness of another could be what helps to lift their spirits. I love what Joshua Becker shares in 12 Simple Ideas to Spread Holiday Cheer This Week.
Spreading Cheer Through Edible Gifts
One of the ways I like to spread cheer is through handmade edible gifts with some chocolate included. NAH!- not with just some chocolate but with lots of Chocolate included…Chocolate, Chocolate, and MORE Chocolate. Now, I do keep in mind gifts for the non-chocoholics- the ones who aren’t too keen on chocolate confections. My gifts for them may include Maple Butterscotch Pecan Brownies, Creamy Pecan Pralines, Pumpkin Bread with Caramel Glaze & Praline Pecans, and Praline Nuts. No, they’re not chocolate but these desserts are just as delightfully delicious as the chocolate gourmet goodies.
Gifts for Chocolate Lovers and Chocoholics
By now, you’re probably curious about the types of gifts I like to make for the Chocolate Lovers and Chocoholics. Usually, those gifts will consist of a variety of three or more of the following confections- Dark Chocolate (or Dark Chocolate Mocha)Truffle Petit Fours, German Chocolate Bon Bons, Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Bark, Chocolate–Dipped Buttery Shortbread Cookies (sprinkled with toppings), Dark Chocolate Truffles or Truffle Pops, Gourmet Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Apples, Chocolate Praline Nut Clusters, and Dark Chocolate Ganache Brownies. And because I enjoy coming up with new chocolate creations, I sometimes throw something different into the mix.
Keepin’ It Simple While Adding a Touch of Gourmet
Here are a few simple and gourmet ideas (also check out the blog to see recipes for some of the desserts mentioned above) for edible gifts:
1. Dark Chocolate Truffle Petit Fours– Use your favorite homemade or box fudgy brownie recipe (chocolate cake can also be used) and be careful not to overbake. I provide my recipe to the brownies I use for the petit fours in The Simple Chocolatier (cookbook will be available soon). After the brownies have cooled, slice them into mini squares. Place the squares onto a wax (or parchment) paper lined baking sheet then dip each square into dark chocolate ganache. Refrigerate (or freeze) the squares until the ganache is firm. Dip the squares into melted dark chocolate (milk chocolate can also be used)- then top with Christmas candies (crushed peppermint, non-pareils, sprinkles, pirouline pieces, or other choices). And, if you prefer- you can drizzle the tops of the petit fours with more chocolate.
2. Extra-Chocolaty Nutty Pretzel Rods– Dip pretzel rods into the caramel, then place onto a well-buttered wax (or parchment) paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate (or freeze) until firm, then dip into melted dark, milk or white chocolate. Return to the refrigerator or freezer until partially set, then dip a second time into melted chocolate and roll in plenty of chopped toasted pistachios (I used Aldi’s roasted pistachios with sea salt), toasted walnuts, praline pecans (praline almonds can also be used), or your choice of nuts.
3. Nutty Butter ‘N Chocolate Pretzel Rods- (see recipe #2) Use melted cashew butter in place of the caramel and chopped toasted cashews in place of the other nuts. You can also try this recipe with almond butter and toasted almonds OR peanut butter and toasted peanuts. This will give your pretzel rods an Extra-Nutty flavor…YUM!
4. Dark Chocolate Truffles– Make a dark chocolate ganache, then place the ganache in the freezer until firm. Scoop by half tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. Place each truffle onto a wax (or parchment) paper lined baking sheet and return to the freezer until they are firm. Dip a truffle into melted dark chocolate (or milk chocolate)– then roll in raw cacao (or cocoa) powder, crushed candy canes, chopped toasted nuts (or praline nuts), shaved chocolate, toffee pieces or toasted coconut. Repeat these steps with each truffle. Chill in the refrigerator. Another variation is to dip the truffles in chocolate then drizzle with more chocolate or top with your favorite choice of toppings. One of my favorites is candied ginger.
5. Truffle Pops– (see recipe #4) After rolling the ganache into balls, insert a lollipop stick into the center of each truffle. Make certain to fill any open space around the stick with ganache. Proceed with the directions for Dark Chocolate Truffles.
Decoratively Packaging Your Food Gifts
The final step before handing out your incredible edible gifts is to place the gourmet goodies in decorative packages. I enjoy picking out different styles and colors of gift bags, baskets, paper shred, ribbons, and more. It’s the most fun part of it all. But, the absolute best part of the gift giving is to see the heartfelt smiles on the surprised faces of those who the gifts are being given to.
Books are also a great gift-giving idea. My new book “From the Place Where War Wages Within, I Cry Out” has recently been released in paperback and will soon be available in eBook form. For more details, please follow the link below.
Share A Smile J
Have A Very Merry Christmas
& A Blessed New Year!
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Yes! More RECIPES :)