DIY Candy Gifts 2016

Hello world! I’m doing a gift post before January! I’m so happy, it’s an accomplishment really. The joys of being a fourth year medical student. Anyways, this year I’ve tried using the phrase “holiday gifts” or “winter gifts” rather than Christmas gifts to be more inclusive to those people that don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t, but I grew up celebrating “commercial Christmas” with my family, so we would always say Merry Christmas to people. I didn’t think of the religious connotations till college when a friend of mine said, oh, I don’t celebrate Christmas. So I tried switching my vocalizations to Winter Celebrations, or Happy Winter! It’s a small correction, but it costs me nothing.

That’s the thing, about “being PC” it’s really just me saying that this thing that I’m doing/saying hurts/offends/excludes you, and it costs me nothing or very little to change, but it costs you a lot when you hear me say…make a joke about women, minorities, immigrants, etc. So I might as well change it. I don’t understand the whole “our country is too PC” rhetoric that seems to have taken over some political stages. People are mad that they can’t tell an off-color joke?

Frequently I find that people make hyperbolic examples to make their point that being “too PC” is a problem. For example it would not be unreasonable to hear someone say “Well, pink socks offend me/trigger me, so stop wearing them.” This makes no sense not only because of the obvious hyperbole that usually the product of not being able to find a real example, but also because the issue of offensive jokes, etc is not that it affects one person, but rather an entire group of people that live a similar experience. Rather it seems like the polite, empathetic thing to do is to, when called out, think about why someone is saying they don’t want you to tell that joke/say that thing/whatever else rather than just roll your eyes about having to “be too PC.”

Now! On to these totally awesome DIY Winter gifts. During the winter months, no matter where you are, it gets colder…and for me that means time for hearty soups, casseroles, and candy.

So I figured what better way to help celebrate the coming of winter and the ringing in of the new year than with some simple to make candy that you can gift away to people!

Below are the recipes for: Chocolate spoons, Chocolate wreaths, and my personal favorite, the Sweet and savory toffee
Last year’s DIY candy gifts can be found here.

Chocolate Spoons: A simple, but elegant gift you can give to your friends that they can use to sweeten up their morning coffee with or simply pop in their mouths for a pick me up. They’re also lovely because you can decorate them any way you want.

What you need: Plastic spoons, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (8-16 oz), toppings (marshmallow, sprinkles, cocoa nibs, peppermint pieces, more chocolate, toffee, etc.) 

Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. Dip just the spoon part of the spoons into the chocolate getting a good coating. Place the spoon on the parchment paper. Top it with whatever toppings you like. Place them in the fridge or freezer to cool, and then pack them up!

Chocolate Wreaths: Round pretzels (I used Utz that I bought from Costco), 16 oz chocolate, toppings (cocoa nibs, sprinkles, peppermint pieces, toffee) 

The key here is to buy pretzels that you’d want to eat just by themselves. If you buy pretzels that don’t taste good, or are stale, you’ll get beautiful wreaths that taste not so good.

Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add pretzels to the melted chocolate until you feel you’ve “saturated” the chocolate. You don’t need each pretzel to have a thick coating, just enough that it coats it. Then give the pretzels a good toss in the chocolate. I used a spatula to do them. Then one by one, using a fork, pull out the pretzels and lay them on the parchment paper. After a row is done, go back and add the topping to your “wreath.” Tossing the pretzels and using the fork adds a texture to the chocolate that makes it look more “wreath” like.

Savory and sweet toffee: This is my favorite. In fact I’m munching on some now as I write this. It’s exactly the same recipe that I used last year for the Pretzel Toffee but instead of pretzels I used saltines and I definitely prefer the saltines. Seriously, make this. It’s so easy — you don’t need a candy thermometer, you don’t need anything fancy, you just need the ingredients, a baking sheet, and some parchment paper.

What you need: 1 cup salted butter, 8oz chocolate, 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, salt, toppings (cocoa nibs, marshmallows, sprinkles, chia seeds)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have 9×13, use what you have and modify the recipe. Line the parchment paper with saltines. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just have to cover the bottom.

Then in a saucepan, heat up the butter and the sugar until it melts down and turns into a toffee. Should take about 2 minutes, watch it so it doesn’t get too dark, you don’t want it to burn. 


Then pour it carefully on top of the saltines, and spread it out. Don’t worry if it doesn’t cover everything, it’ll spread in the oven. Put it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Check to make sure it’s not burning at 8 minutes. Pull it out, let it cool for a minute or two, then pour the 8oz of chocolate/chocolate chips on top.The heat from the toffee with the melt the chocolate. Spread it around in a thin layer.



 Then put your toppings on top! This year I went for a “messy” look, and mixed cocoa nibs, marshmallows, salt, chia seeds, and sprinkles on top. Pop it in the freezer for an hour to let it cool, then break it into pieces by hand and eat it or package it up to go! 



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