Christmas is right around the corner, albeit much quicker than I would like because, like many other people, I am not ready. I want to slow down and watch all the movies, go see lights, walk around neighborhoods with some hot cocoa and about a million other things on my holiday bucket list. I get why some people decorate right after Halloween; there’s simply not enough time to get it all done! 

In addition to decorating, thinking about gifts, buying and then wrapping them, there’s the snacks. I need snacks around while I’m doing all these holiday tasks. This is the one time of year that Cheetos simply won't do. Christmas dinner is fantastic and all, but I crave all the holiday snacks that you never get except at this time of year.

I know you, like me, probably have several million things to do, so let’s get on with the recipes. I like them to be quick because these snacks are for while we do other things, after all. Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you make some of these and include them into your yearly rotation as future holidays come around. Happy holidays to you and all your loved ones!

 

Christmas Puppy Chow

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 5 cups Chex cereal of your choice
  • 1 1/2 cups mini pretzels, broken up
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups holiday M&Ms
  • 1 cup peanut butter cups, chopped, or mini peanut butter cups

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cereal and the pretzels and stir together.

  2. In another heat-safe bowl, melt together the peanut butter and chocolate chips in 30-second intervals to ensure they don’t burn.

  3. Pour the peanut butter/chocolate mixture over the cereal and mix to evenly coat.

  4. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.

  5. In another large bowl, place 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar at the bottom. Spoon in about half the cereal mixture. Then layer the powdered sugar, cereal and another layer of powdered sugar on top and stir together to ensure all the powdered sugar and cereal mixture are well combined.

  6. Chill for another 45-60 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if necessary.

  7. Stir in candy pieces and enjoy!

 

Saltine Toffee

Ingredients:

  • 40 saltine crackers
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Place the crackers in straight rows, side by side on the baking sheet.

  3. Add butter and brown sugar into a sauce pan and heat together until the sugar has dissolved and is bubbling, making sure to stir.

  4. Pour the hot sugar mixture directly on top of the crackers, making sure they’re all coated evenly.

  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes and remove from the oven.

  6. While the pan is still hot, sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips and pop back into the oven for 45-60 seconds.

  7. Remove the pan and use an offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips over the crackers. Sprinkle tops with pecans if using.

  8. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes before breaking toffee apart into small pieces.

 

Cool Whip Candy

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs of milk chocolate chips
  • 1 8 oz.-tub of Cool Whip, thawed (Don’t knock it until you try it!)
  • 24 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the milk chocolate chips in 30-second intervals making sure not to overheat or burn. Stir until smooth.

  2. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, fold the melted chocolate with the Cool Whip and pour into the baking dish.

  4. Chill in the freezer for 30-40 minutes. 

  5. Melt the dark chocolate and stir until smooth. 

  6. Remove the Cool Whip mixture from the freezer and cut into square bite-sized pieces. 

  7. Dip the cut pieces into the dark chocolate and place on a fresh sheet of parchment paper until the chocolate hardens.

  8. Decorate however you’d like and enjoy! Store this treat in the freezer for long term storage or in the fridge and enjoy a little chilled.

 

Christmas Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup roasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. 

  2. Form into a ball and serve with crackers. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

Rosemary Cheddar Rice Krispie Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, cheese, flour, herbs and spices until mixed together.

  3. Gently mix in the cereal and scoop out into 1-inch balls and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Press down slightly and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. 

  4. Allow to cool and then place on a cooling rack before enjoying.

  

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.