Kid-friendly, Christmas-themed candy concoctions

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Pretzel Hugs

These bite-sized chocolate and pretzel snacks are easy to make and fun to eat. Kids and adults will love them, and they are perfect to set out at a party or to put in festive treat bags and give as gifts.

Ingredients needed:

Square pretzels (not butter snaps)

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1 bag of Hershey’s Hugs

1 bag of M&M candies (for the Christmas theme, get the holiday bags with only red and green candies inside)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and arrange the pretzels in rows. Unwrap and place a Hershey’s Hug candy on each pretzel. Place the tray in the oven for 3-5 minutes (long enough for the Hugs to be soft and shiny but make sure to take them out before the Hugs melt and lose their shape). Once pretzels and Hugs are out of the oven, gently press one M&M candy onto each Hug. Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least five minutes for the chocolate to cool. Then serve as you please!

Have some M&Ms left over? Use them to make candy bark!

Oreo and Candy Bark

Peppermint bark is a holiday staple, but if you’re looking for a more kid-friendly, candy-centered option, here it is. (And this doesn’t have to be just for Christmas — use any colors you like to make it fit any holiday.)

Ingredients needed:

Oreos (about 12-15; get the holiday-colored ones if you can)

M&Ms (about 1 cup in whichever holiday colors you’d like)

Pretzels (thin sticks or squares)

White chocolate chips (about 1 pound)

Sprinkles (in holiday colors)

Directions:

Place wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Break up the Oreos, spreading them on the cookie sheet. Next, break up some pretzels and layer them in. Add ¾ cup of the M&Ms into the mixture and gently pat down on the mixture so the top is fairly even. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the white chocolate chips until completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the cookie sheet mixture, then add sprinkles and the remaining M&M candies to the top. Let it cool or refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. Once it’s hardened, break it apart and serve as you like! It can be set out on plates at a party, or bagged to give with holiday gifts.

This would also be fun to make at a holiday party. Set out a variety of cookie/candy bowls (including the Oreos, pretzels, M&Ms, and any other cookies or candies that might go well with white chocolate, like milk chocolate bits, almonds, KitKat bites, or peppermint chips). Give each guest a small plate covered with wax or parchment paper, and let them pick their own mixture of cookies and candies, then pour some melted white chocolate on each mixture. Have each guest put a post-it note with their name on it next to their plate, and bag up their cooled bark for them before they leave!

Easy cookies for the holidays

Cookies and candy are a staple of many holiday parties and a fun treat to have on hand during the snowy season. For a special treat, you can combine them to create delicious desserts that everyone will love.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

What could make peanut butter cookies better? What if there was a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup right in the cookie? Here’s how to make that happen:

Ingredients Needed:

Peanut butter cookie mix (and the ingredients needed to make it — usually eggs, oil, and water)

1 bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the peanut butter cookie batter as instructed, and then drop by tablespoons into a greased mini-muffin pan. Bake as instructed on the package (usually between 8 and 12 minutes). While cookies are in the oven, unwrap the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After removing the cookies from the oven, place a Peanut Butter Cup on each cookie and with your finger gently press it into the cookie. Let the treats cool for a little while before moving them to a cooling rack. Then, serve as you please! (They are deliciously gooey when served warm.) These would make fun party treats, or would be a great addition to a gift. This recipe makes about two dozen cookies.

Not a peanut butter fan? You can get the same effect with a different taste by switching out the peanut butter cookie mix for brownie mix or chocolate cookie mix, and swapping the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for peppermint-flavored Hershey’s Kisses.

Add a holiday touch to your frosting

If you’re making frosted cakes or cookies this holiday season, consider adding a dash of cozy flavor to a basic frosting recipe. Think of how delicious your frosting would be with a hint of gingerbread or hazelnut mixed in. First, mix up a simple buttercream frosting, and then add your flavor.

Simple Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

4 sticks of butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 cups powdered sugar

Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter for a gingerbread flavor or Nutella for a hazelnut flavor

Directions:

In a bowl, cream together softened butter and vanilla extract. One cup at a time, add in the powdered sugar, mixing after each up until you have the consistency you want. Lastly, add in a scoop of Cookie Butter for a delightful gingerbread flavor or a scoop of Nutella for a yummy hint of hazelnut. Mix well and voila! Either frosting would be delicious on chocolate cake or cupcakes, and their tastes evoke that warm and cozy holiday feel!

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