From Z to A: 4 Sweet Treats That Make Great Gifts

With Christmas only a few days away, our brain capacity for coming up with last-minute gifts is going to be at an all time low. I don’t know about you, but around the holidays, I feel like I’m sprinting a marathon. With kids’ school parties, friend get-togethers and then the actual mental load of getting outfits, matching PJ’s, scheduling Santa pics, thinking up gift ideas, researching where to get them and then wrapping everything… My goodness, it becomes a lot. 

So when I have to think up any last-minute ideas, I usually turn to my pantry because, chances are, I almost always have the ingredients.

But even if you don’t have all the ingredients (or that psycho schedule I described above), these are still great gift ideas to share with either a party host, work friends or just for enjoying time with family at home. 

 

Easy Peasy Snacks

In the easy peasy category, I love simply dipping items in chocolate because not only are they easy to make, but they really taste great. Here are a few ideas:

  • Melting wafers/chocolate-dipped Oreos, pretzels, fruit, cookies, marshmallows, rice crispy treats, nuts or spoons for coffee/hot cocoa
  • Top with crushed candy canes, holiday sprinkles or crushed nuts

With this combination, you can see how easy it is to quickly put something together even if at the last minute.

 

Holiday Chex Mix

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Rice Chex 
  • 4 cups Corn or Wheat Chex
  • 1 cup pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2-3 cups Reese’s Pieces or M&M’s 
  • 24 oz. white melting wafers or white chocolate
  • holiday sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a large enough bowl, mix together the Chex, pretzels, marshmallows and candy of choice.

  2. Gently melt the white chocolate according to the package directions.

  3. Drizzle chocolate all over the cereal mix and combine to coat over all the ingredients.

  4. Spread the mixture onto a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

  5. While the chocolate is still melted, top with holiday sprinkles and allow the chocolate to cool and harden.

  6. Once cooled, break the bark into smaller pieces and store in airtight bags or containers. Give to others as a gift or plop it in a big bowl right next to you while you watch Hallmark movies and wrap presents.

 

5 Minute Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 16 large marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat together the sugar, milk, butter and salt until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat a bit and continue stirring.

  2. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

  3. Add in the marshmallows, extracts and nuts and stir until the marshmallows melt.

  4. Pour into a lightly buttered 8×8 dish. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.

  5. Place into airtight bags or containers for gifting. Or just keep walking into the kitchen and getting “just one more piece” until you slowly hate yourself.

 

Pecan Sandies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp. sugar for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.

  3. Add in the flour, salt and vanilla extract and mix. The mixture will become crumbly.

  4. Add in the nuts and mix well until incorporated. Feel free to use your hands to mix until the dough comes together.

  5. Scoop out the cookie dough and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

  6. Flatten cookies slightly, sprinkle tops with sugar, then flatten a little more so sugar gets pushed in slightly.

  7. Bake for about 10-14 minutes depending on the size of your cookies as well as your oven as temps can vary from oven to oven.

  8. Allow to cool completely before packaging up for gifts. 

Hope these treats come in handy this holiday season. Stay safe, happy and filled with love and yummy food.

 

From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit.

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