Chocolate Dipped Holiday Gifts
If red roses are the symbol of true love when giving or receiving flowers, then chocolate is the cupid of the confection world. If you are a true chocoholic, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It does not matter whether you are a fan of white, milk, or dark — a box of chocolates is a special gift. So, what if I told you an easy way to share holiday cheer by making your own chocolate dipped holiday gifts?! Believe it or not, in a matter of minutes, you can have a chocolate-inspired gift that looks amazing, tastes delicious, and is perfect for friends, family, mailmen, teachers, or anyone else you want to give a special gift this holiday season.
There are two easy ways to temper (melt) chocolate: in the microwave or in a double boiler. I prefer to use the double boiler method (pictured above) because the bowl stays warm a lot longer, giving me time to dip to my heart’s content. In a pinch, I will use the microwave and just dip faster.
Double boiler method:
Fill a small saucepot with 2-3 inches of water. Place a glass bowl on top of pot (the bowl should not touch the water), and heat over low heat to a simmer – do not boil water. Add chocolate wafers to bowl (Ghirardelli has a great line of melting wafers, and they're available in most super markets). Stir until chocolate melts. With oven mitt, carefully remove bowl from pot.
Place wafers in a glass microwave-safe bowl. On defrost setting, heat wafers in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each session until wafers are melted. If your chocolate is cooked too long, it will seize or harden. Try adding a tablespoon of Crisco and warm for 15 seconds. If this does not work, you will have to start over.
Pretzels – big or small, twisted or rods – make great sweet-and-salty treats and are perfect to dip in chocolate. Dunk ends of rods into your pool of chocolate or place the whole thing right in the bowl. Turn over and remove with a fork. Place both on a tray lined with wax paper to cool completely. To make your pretzels look a little more fancy, add a few sprinkles before chocolate sets.
Other savory items to try: Potato chips, bacon, crackers, nuts
Sweet on sweet works well if you are dipping Mother Nature’s candy! Dried fruit works wonderfully and can be found year-round. I grabbed a few bags of dried apricots, peaches, cherries, and cranberries. If the dried fruit is large, only dip half into the chocolate. If it's small, like the cherries or cranberries, toss in the melted chocolate to cover completely. Fresh fruits work well, also, but must be eaten within a day or two. Pineapple, oranges, and melons work really well and, of course, we cannot leave out the chocolate-dipped strawberry!
Other fruits to try: raisins, clementine, bananas, kiwi, apples
There is nothing easier than making a special holiday treat called bark. This type of candy has so many options that I couldn't possibly list them all. This is a great gift to have the kids help make and give to their teachers. Melt chocolate, as described above, then pour onto a tray lined with wax or parchment paper. Spread out into a ½ inch thick oval or rectangle. Working quickly, sprinkle toppings over the top. Let cool completely and then break into pieces.
Milk or dark chocolate topping suggestions: crushed candy canes, pretzels, nuts, M&Ms, fruit
White chocolate topping suggestions: crushed pistachios, chopped apricots, pretzels, candies
Chocolate makes for super simple gifts that take very little time to put together. Some of my favorite ideas include dipping a colored plastic spoon and tying to the handle of a mug. Fill the mug with a favorite flavor coffee, and you have a mochaccino, or dip the chocolate end of the spoon in crushed candy canes and fill the mug with a rich hot chocolate mix for a really nice treat. Place chocolate dipped pretzels into a clear candy bag and tie with a festive ribbon, or use my new favorite container — the Mason jar. Fill with dipped fruit, nuts, or candy bark, wrap with a special ribbon and tag, and you are good to go!
What is your favorite chocolate combination? Happy Holidays!