Last year I did a series of posts called Christmas on the Cheap that featured a few do-it-yourself gifts that didn’t cost a load of cash. I’m late with this series this year, so I’ll be posting just a few ideas that are not only cheap, but quick! Keep checking back through this week for more ideas.
If you’re not a skilled candy maker, melting chocolate is your friend. You can dip all kinds of foods in it for Christmas treats or make your own chocolate candies.
I purchased 3-4 pounds of dark melting chocolate and another 3 pounds of white melting chocolate this year to make peppermint bark and coconut haystacks (or clusters, if you prefer). I bought it at a bulk foods store and probably paid $20 total. That may sound like a lot, but I made one 9-by-13 cookie sheet of peppermint bark, two dozen coconut haystacks that are the size of cookies (whoops) and still have a little left over. I haven’t divided it all up yet, but I’ll easily have enough candy for 12 or more people. That’s where the cost factor is beneficial.
I make my peppermint bark with dark chocolate on the bottom and white chocolate on top. The white chocolate is mixed with crushed up peppermint candies and sprinkled with more candy on top. Sometimes I mix a little mint extract into the chocolate as well, but you don’t have to. Since I’m one of those weirdo cooks that just eyeball this kind of thing, here’s a similar recipe from Food.com. This recipe melts the chocolate in the oven, but I use a double boiler and melt it on the stove.
To make the coconut haystacks, melt the chocolate using a double boiler and stir in your desired amount of sweetened coconut flakes. Scoop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and put in the fridge to cool and set up. Or, if coconut is not a favorite in your family, use peanuts or crushed up pretzels.
Other tasty chocolate-dipped treats include Oreos, graham crackers, pretzel rods (then cover in festive sprinkles!) or dried fruit.
Missed last year’s posts? Here they are: