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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate, Chocolate Everywhere

Looking for something easy to make for the holidays?  

Try making some chocolate bark and chocolate covered pretzels. Talk about easy. And when you arrange these chocolate pieces in a small box or cellophane bag with a festive ribbon, you've got an impressive gift to bring to friends, family and neighbors.

I usually make three kinds of chocolate bark and chocolate covered pretzels. White chocolate, milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Here's how to do it.

NOTE: First, as you all know, my middle child has a bunch of food allergies, two being dairy and nuts. So I make the semi-sweet chocolate goodies first. Just for her. She LOVES the semi-sweet chocolate covered pretzels the best.

If you have a loved one with food allergies, make sure the "safe" ingredients and "uncontaminated" cooking pans and utensils are kept separate from the rest of the food and cooking supplies. This is absolutely critical in my household. You'll be able to find semi-sweet chocolate, pretzel rods, jimmies, and some candies that are not manufactured near nuts or dairy. You may have to call the manufacturer directly to find out this information, if it is not specifically detailed on the food packaging.

White chocolate and milk chocolate contain dairy and may be manufactured near nuts. Semi-sweet chocolate may be manufactured near nuts and dairy. If you have a food allergic family member or friend, USE EXTREME CAUTION when choosing the chocolate and candy for these recipes. Check every ingredient carefully.

Chocolate Bark
2 bags white chocolate chips
2 bags milk chocolate chips (if you can't find milk chocolate chips, then melt white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips together until you get the milk chocolate flavor you like)
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crushed peppermint and/or spearmint hard candies or candy canes

Melt the chocolate chips over the lowest heat possible in separate pots (white chocolate in one pot, milk chocolate in a second pot, semi-sweet chocolate in a third pot). Stir each pot of chocolate chips until the chips have all melted. Line three cookie sheets with wax paper. Spread the melted white chocolate in one pan, melted milk chocolate in the second pan, melted semi-sweet chocolate in the third pan. Spread the chocolate to less than 1/2 inch thickness.

Quickly shake the crushed peppermints/spearmints or candy canes over the chocolate and press down. If you use the peppermint/spearmint combination over the white chocolate, you'll have a pretty red/green/white candy that's perfect for Christmas.

If you have any leftover chocolate, drizzle the white chocolate on top of the milk chocolate, drizzle milk chocolate on top of the white chocolate...get the picture? Place the chocolate someplace cool to harden--your refrigerator, your porch, etc.  

However, be careful.  Chocolate is sensitive to temperatures--if the chocolate gets too hot, humid or cold, white bloom will appear on the surface.

Once the chocolate bark has hardened, break off pieces and store in an airtight container. This makes plenty to share with loved ones. Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 bags of Rod pretzel sticks
Colorful jimmies, sprinkles, colored sugars, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, crushed toffee, crushed candy bars, mini marshmallows and anything else you'd like to try

Melt the chocolate chips in three separate pots over the lowest possible heat. Stir until the chocolate chips have melted. Line three cookie sheets with wax paper.

Take one pretzel rod and dip it into the chocolate. Use a spoon to distribute the chocolate evenly over the pretzel. Quickly cover the chocolate covered pretzel with any of the yummy toppings and then put on the wax paper lined cookie sheet. Take a spoon and drizzle chocolate on top of the toppings. Continue with the rest of the pretzels.

Place the cookie sheets somewhere cool until the chocolate hardens. These are amazing. The crunch, salt and sweet together is total, total joy.

Enjoy your holidays!


PJ Hoover said...

It looks so good! If I didn't have a hundred cookies downstairs and be planning on making a gingerbread house, I'd be tempted.
OK, I'm still tempted.

jama said...

Yum diddle um dum!! Thanks; think I'm going with the semisweet chocolate. Happy Christmas!!

Kelly said...

Those look good! My mother in law just gave me some like that! Yummy! Have a wonderful holiday!

Jennifer said...

OH! Don't let me print these recipes out... I have no self control when it comes to chocolate!!! Yum!!! Have a great holiday! :-)

holly cupala said...

Peppermint bark...oh. One of my faves. Though I always mess up the melting of the white chocolate and go through bags and bags. I am way to impatient to watch chocolate melt!

kbaccellia said...

Yum! Can I come to your house?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Ooohh, I'll have to do the chocolate covered pretzels tomorrow. My kids love those. Thanks for the recipes. Have a great Christmas!

Beth Kephart said...

You are always doing the right things as a mom and friend. Inspiring!