An Afternoon of Homemade Gifts – Finally Added Photos!

So, as many of you may know the Midwest was hit with a nasty ice storm Thursday evening and a lot of folks have been without electricity since then. We are fortunate enough in Syracuse to only have lost power today for a total of an hour or two including all the times it went out since about 3:00 this morning. I had decided that I would take the time to make a few (ha – a few – right…I can never just make a few of anything!) gifts for the people I work with. I usually do a food item of sorts, last year it was chocolate covered pretzels which went over well. This year I did the pretzels but a bit differently…I also whipped these cute little hot cocoa stir sticks up…It was a long day, so I documented the process for your (my) entertainment.

You’ll need:
  • Marshmallows – either miniature or full sized, it is up to you!
  • melting chocolate – I use the almond bark in vanilla and chocolate
  • skewers of some type – since these are to be used in a hot beverage, I chose to use coffee stir sicks
  • candy canes – you can use traditional peppermint or jazz it up a bit with the fruit flavored ones (I was looking for a variety pack but all the store had was Starburst Strawberry)
  • rolling pin
  • sturdy ziplock bags
  • parchment paper
  • microwave safe glass bowls
First, unwrap your candy canes and place three or four in the ziplock bag; seal it and place it on a hard surface – you’re going to crush the candy canes with the rolling pin (crush them, roll them, beat them to bits!) Chances are the bag will tear a bit, but that’s ok.
Rolling pin, Ziploc bag, and candy canes...

Rolling pin, Ziploc bag, and candy canes... (before)

...crushed candy canes (after)

...crushed candy canes (after)

Using the skewers of choice, slide the marshmallows onto the sticks. I’ve found that if your marshmallows are a little harder (that is, if you’ve had them for a while and haven’t figured out what to do with them…or if you open the bag and let the air harden them a bit – kind of like Peeps!) they go on easier. Depending on the size of your marshmallows will depend on how many you add – I used any where between 6-8 depending on how smushed the marshmallows became. Once you have them on the skewer, you can manipulate them to get them situated – you’ll want them touching end to end, with no spaces between them.
Marshmallows arranged on the stir sticks or skewers.

Marshmallows arranged on the stir sticks or skewers.

After you’ve got all your marshmallows on skewers, it is time to melt the chocolate. Using your microwave safe glass bowls, heat 2-3 blocks of bark keeping a close eye on it – IT BURNS VERY QUICKLY! Stir on occasion to make sure it is melting evenly…
Once your bark is melted, take one skewer at a time, and coat it with the melted bark. I like to use a spoon to make sure it is coated evenly…
Mmm...melted almond bark!

Mmm...melted almond bark!

Place coated skewers on parchment-lined cookie sheets; before the bark starts to harden, you want to sprinkle with the crushed candy canes.  Once I have the sheet filled, I like to put the tray in the fridge to set a little quicker.
The marshmallow skewers are placed on parchment paper, then sprinkled with the candy.

The marshmallow skewers are placed on parchment paper, then sprinkled with the candy.

Ready for the fridge!

Ready for the fridge! (sorry the picture is a bit blurry...I think my batteries were almost dead!)

I also made some milk chocolate ones...

I also made some milk chocolate ones...

Package however you’d like – I placed two to a baggie, closed with a twisty-tie and ribbon (sorry I forgot to take a photo of that!) I also attached a little tag to it explaining what they are and how to use them – it was just clip art of a mug of cocoa, and to enjoy them in some hot cocoa (it was more creative with that, but that was a while ago, and I’ve slept since then!)
Miscellaneous notes:
  • Use any kind of decorations you’d like – peppermint candy canes, fruit flavored candy canes, or stir in flavoring extracts to the melted bark – peppermint or another flavor. Just remember these are to be used in a hot beverage so it shouldn’t be something totally off the wall!
  • These would look super cute paired with a mug and some seasonal hot beverages – cocoa, coffee, even teas would be yummy!
  • The same technique can be used for chocolate covered pretzels – this year I made them out of the rods; I broke them in half, coated the broken end with the bark, and then I drizzled with melted cherry flavored morsels (who knew there was such a thing?!) Those turned out great (I’ll try to remember to take pictures of those before I give them away)! (sadly I forgot to take photos of the pretzels – sorry!)

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