Today may be the busiest shopping day of the year so gear up if you plan to take part in the big surge. Last minute holiday shoppers are filling the stores to purchase their last minute gifts.
If you dread the thought, but prefer to stay off the naughty list of your children’s teachers, acquaintances or neighbors, consider a lunch purse or a digital spoon scale (more information below), a cooking gadget, a cookbook, artisanal chocolate bars or even a gift certificate from Starbucks.
For a gift that is more personalized, prepare one of the quick and easy holiday treats featured in this post. If you love chocolate and peanut butter, a decorative container of Peanut Crisps or Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch would please anyone on your list or make a thoughtful parting gift for friends who have dropped in to visit. Check back tomorrow for holiday treats that are even quicker to prepare.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch
These simple, delicious cookies have five basic ingredients –and no flour! The dough can also be embellished with mini chocolate chips, chopped nut brittle or peanuts. Baked cookies can be drizzled with melted caramel or chocolate. Plain small-size cookies can be sandwiched with a chocolate filling made by gently melting 1 stick unsalted butter with 2-1/2 (4 ounce) bars of chopped bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or set into a pan of barely simmering water.
2 cups plain or chunky peanut butter
2 cups granulated or light brown sugar (or half of each)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients together to create the dough. For large cookies, shape dough into 23 or 24 balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheets 2-1/2 to 3 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly using the bottom of a lightly greased large Pyrex glass measuring cup dipped in sugar. Press cookies to about 2-1/2 inches wide. Bake 10 to 11 minutes until crisp and light golden. For crisper cookies, reduce heat; cook a few minutes longer. Watch to prevent excessive browning. For small cookies, use one generous tablespoon cookie dough per cookie Pressing dough is optional; bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and pair cookies with the chocolate filling mentioned in the intro material.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch
This recipe has been in my files for years and I forgot about it. I made a batch again this year and everyone went crazy over it -you can’t eat just one piece! Recipients on your holiday gift list will be delighted to receive a generous portion in a decorative canister, a colorful Chinese carry-out box or in a clear cellophane bag tied with raffia. This recipe makes a lot!
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 (12 ounce) bag semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 (12 ounce) box Rice Chex Cereal
1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
In a medium saucepan, melt peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Put cereal into a large bowl, pour in chocolate mixture; mix well. Pour half of the confectioners’ sugar into a large zip-top plastic storage bag. Spoon half the cereal mixture into the bag. Shake well to coat. Remove to a large bowl. Repeat process with the remaining sugar and cereal mixture. Store the crunch in an airtight container. Package in small containers for gift-giving.
Check out the following link on the amazing Lunch Purse – a new hot trend in lunch boxes that foodies love. There are many varieties for sale on the internet or you can make your own. To learn more, start here: http://hubpages.com/hub/Selecting-a-designer-lunch-bag
The very popular Digital Spoon Scale has two detachable and interchangeable scoops. The handy scale measures in both weight (ounces and grams), volume, tablespoon and teaspoon units. Many other gift ideas at this site: http://www.spoonsisters.co
Photos © by Susan Fuller Slack
Recipes appeared in a holiday article I created for Columbia Metropolitan Magazine (December 2010 issue)