I entered December with the start of a plan. I envisioned two weekends where I would be able to bake cookies like pfeffernusse, try my hand at lebkuchen, maybe tackle a mincemeat pie. But the plan changed, neither weekend could be used. Weekday nights are tough because by the time I get home from work and get ready, it's already well into the evening.
Still, I wanted to do something. This led to two late nights of making nut clusters, barks, and dipping. I was able to do this by using chocolate flavored and vanilla flavored almond bark. Made to be melted and dipping, almond bark (sometimes referred to as candy coating) works well as a time saving and cost saving alternative to real chocolate. Especially for dipping, where the most important flavor is the item dipped and not what it's dipped in. Plus, a few people in my family don't eat chocolate but they can still have the vanilla version. Time is saved because there is no tempering, just melt and go. Need more? Just add it and melt. Much, much simpler and no worrying about bloom. Qualitywise, let's be honest and say this isn't going to wow any chocolatiers or chocolate sophisticates who sample hand-rolled truffles infused with basil and topped with sea salt. Really, the quality is on par with a chocolate bar from Hershey's or Nestle and most people will appreciate the effort you put into making it.
All in all, I was able to make a selection of items for small gifts. Lorrie and I both brought some to work. A little bag to a friend here and there. Enough to bring with use to both family Christmas celebrations. Below is a list of things I made.
- Cherry vanilla bark
- Vanilla-covered and chocolate-covered toasted coconut marshmallows
- Vanilla-covered and chocolate-covered shortbread
- Chocolate-covered Nutter Butters
- Mint chocolate-covered graham crackers
- Mint-covered Oreos
- Vanilla-covered Oreos with crushed peppermint candy canes
- Vanilla-covered peanut butter and Ritz cracker sandwiches
- Cranberry and pistachio vanilla mendiants
- Various chocolate-covered nut clusters
- Vanilla almond bark
- Peanut clusters, Almond clusters, and mixed nut clusters
I wish I had the time to bake though. I was looking forward to having some fun trying recipes though now I won't feel guilty about showing up empty-handed.