Holiday Baking & Homemade Gifts - YUM!

This year the hubby and I planned a trip to Mexico over the holidays (we leave tomorrow for 10 days, yay!) so I thought it would be easiest to do a huge amount of baking and package them in nice tins as gifts.  This covered my boss, his boss, the kids' teachers and other adults we had to get gifts for.  It was a huge undertaking though, and took up many hours in the evenings.  Everyone loved their goodies and I am already getting recipe requests, so here you go. Thank you Kraft, Canadian Living, Taste of Home, and Robin Hood for the fabulous recipes.  Enjoy!

Nutty Chocolate Mallow Bars
4 squares unsweetened chocolate chopped
3/4 c butter
2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 jar marshmallow fluff
2 c semisweet chocolates
1 c peanut butter
3 c Rice Krispies (I used the vanilla ones)

Heat the oven to 350.  Microwave the chocolate squares and butter on high for 2 minutes or until melted, stirring each minute.  Stir in sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Stir in the flour.  Spread into a 13x9 pan sprayed with cooking pray and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool completely.  Spread the marshmallow fluff over top.  Microwave the chocolate chips & peanut butter for 2 minutes, stirring after each minute until well blended.  Stir in the cereal.  Spread over marshmallow and refrigerate 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Peppermint Swirl Fudge
1 tsp butter
1 pkg white chocolate chips (10-12oz)
1 container vanilla frosting
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
8 drops red food coloring (I left this out)
2 T crushed candy canes or other peppermint candy

Line a 9" square baking pan with foil & grease with butter.  Set aside.  Melt the chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.  Stir in the frosting & extract.  Spread into prepared pan.  Randomly place drops of food coloring (if using) over fudge; cut through with a knife to swirl.  Sprinkle with candies.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set .  Using the foil, lift fudge out of the pan.  Gently peel off the foil and cut in 1" squares.  Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Dollies
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c melted butter
1 c chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped salted peanuts
3/4 c chopped pretzels
1 can sweetened condensed milk

In a bowl stir the first 2 ingredients together & press into a parchment lined 9" square baking pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate, peanuts & pretzels and pour the milk over top.  Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour to cool completely.  If you would like to make this ahead, wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or wrap with plastic & foil and freeze for a month.  Cut into squares.

Double Chocolate Truffle Triangles
2 T whipping cream
1 pkg (6 squares) white chocolate squares
1 1/2 T almond liqueur (this is optional - I used extract)
1 pkg (8 squares) semi sweet chocolate squares
1/4 c topping - candy, crushed chocolate bars, anything (I used chopped toffee chocolate bars)

Microwave whipping cream, white chocolate and liqueur or extract if using for 2 minutes, stirring after each minute, until completely melted.  Set aside.  Microwave 7 squares of the semi sweet for 3 minutes, stirring after each minute until melted.  Line the bottom of an 8" square baking pan with wax paper.  Spread melted semi sweet in a thin layer over the paper.  Freeze for 5 minutes.  Spread the white chocolate mixture evenly over top.  Sprinkle with topping.  Melt remaining chocolate square in microwave and drizzle over top.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.  Let stand at room temp before cutting into bars or triangles.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Golden Caramel Cheesecake Bars
24 golden oreo cookies
2 T butter melted
25 caramels (like the kraft ones)
1 T water
2 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1 egg

Heat oven to 350.  Line a 9" square pan with foil, with the ends sticking out.  Spray with cooking spray.  Process 14 cookies in the blender & mix with butter.  Press on bottom of pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.  Microwave caramels and water on high for 1 minute or until completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  Coarsely chop remaining cookies.  Beat the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff in a large bowl with a mixer until well blended.  Add the egg and mix well.  Stir in chopped cookies.  Pour over crust.  Drop spoonfuls of the caramel over batter and swirl gently with a knife.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until centre is almost set, but still slightly jiggly.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Use foil handles to lift the cheesecake from pan before cutting into bars.

Millionaire's Shortbread Bars
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c icing sugar
3/4 c butter softened
1 can Dulche De Leche Caramel Sauce (Eagle Brand) - when I went to Loblaws for this, they said it was seasonal and that they aren't carrying it anymore (what's more seasonal than Christmas??) so I used a can of condensed milk mixed with a whole vanilla bean
1 c chocolate chips melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 8x8 pan with parchment, overlapping sides.  In a medium bowl combine flour and icing sugar.  Blend in butter using pastry blender or your fingers.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.  Bring caramel sauce to a boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly, cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Spread thickened mixture on top of shortbread reserving 1 T to drizzle on top of chocolate.  Pour melted chocolate evenly on top of caramel and spread to cover.  Drizzle reserved caramel on top.  Chill in fridge 3 hours.  Cut into squares.

Lime Coconut Squares
3/4 c graham crumbs
3/4 c shredded coconut
1/4 c sugar
1/3 c butter melted
Curd -
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
2 T lime zest grated
2/3 c lime juice

In a bowl stir together the first 4 ingredients and press in a parchment lined 8" square baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Let cool.  For the curd, whisk together all ingredients and pour over crust.  Bake at 350 until edges are set but centre is jiggly, 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.  If making ahead, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  Cut in squares.

Smores Rice Krispie Squares
6 T butter divided in half
2 (10oz) bags large marshmallows
1 (10oz) bag mini marshmallows
12 c rice krispies divided in half
1 x 6 pack Hershey bars
graham crackers
marshmallow fluff

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment (although the recipe doesn't call for this, I highly recommend spraying your parchment with A LOT of cooking spray to avoid severe sticking later).  In a large mixing bowl add 6 c rice krispies and set aside.  Melt 3 T butter in a large pan over medium low heat.  Add 1 bag big marshmallows and half a bag of mini.  Stir until completely melted (this takes about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and pour over cereal.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared pan and press firmly.  Make 2nd batch the same way and put in another 9x13 pan.  Melt chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring each minute.  Spread over first pan of rice krispies & sprinkle with some kosher salt if desired.  Working quickly, cover the still wet chocolate with the graham crackers.  Set aside to let chocolate harden.  When set, take rice krispies out of second pan.  Spread marshmallow fluff over top. Carefully removed graham covered bars from pan, flip them over and place face down on marshmallow fluff.  Lightly press together and let sit for 10 minutes.  Cut into squares.  These are even better the next day.

For the annual Hanukkah party at my brother & sister-in-laws, I presented my sweets on a platter:

And for gifts, I lined pretty tins from the dollar store with wax paper, set the squares inside (2 layers - wax paper in between), tied the tin with a bow and added a tag & chocolate ornament.  I don't have a picture of this - they've all been given away.

Hope you find the time during the busy holiday season to make some of these treats for yourself - they are well worth the time spent in the kitchen!