Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Hey, Do You Have Any More Of Those Reindeer Antlers?": A Handmade Christmas, 2009

The benefit of a handmade Christmas is the money you save; that's the first thought that may come to your mind.  I'll be honest, that's the first thought that came to mine.  Since Nick and I moved out on our own, we knew we were working on a far stricter budget than we anticipated.  Fresh-baked cookies in a dollar-store Christmas tin may be cost-thrifty, but don't doubt that you'll be the hit of every Christmas party and family gathering - we certainly were!  Nick and I spent some quality time together in the kitchen making some Christmas treats, starting a tradition I hope we can keep up for next Christmas!

These cookies were a mainstay around the apartment during Christmas.  There was always a fresh batch made every few days, either baking for friends or family.  To be honest, probably half of each batch made ended up in our tummies.  This is your standard choco-chip cookie recipe, replacing chocolate chips with red and green M&M's and adding a quarter-cup of cocoa powder for extra chocolateyness.  (It's a word now!)

Thinking of a fun alternative to the 'baked goods' came another delicacy that warms my tummy when the cold season arrives - hot chocolate!  (Cue 'Hot Chocolate' from 'The Polar Express'!)  I had made the most delicious mocha-chocolate concoction layered like 'sand art' inside a glass jar, complete with red and green M&M's, chocolate chips and marshmallows!  I had made two of these for work friends, but they almost didn't make it there.


And, yes, the legacy that begins the Reindeer Antlers.  I cannot take credit for this idea, I found this wonderful, easy-to-make treat in a grocery-aisle Bright Ideas cookbook, and what a smart purchase!  These were lots of fun to make, and incredibly easy - dip pretzel sticks in melted semi-sweet chocolate, arrange in antler shapes and decorate with ... uh, anything!  I stuck to the safe stuff - red and green M&M's and marshmallows.  Bringing these out for a Christmas party with some close friends proved to be a hit, and the first to disappear.  Nearly everyone a few days later had asked if I would be making any more.  We know what we'll be making next year, as well!  Take a look at the photos below for a sneak peek at the process.

As it's very difficult to handle a camera and melted chocolate at the same time, I regret that I do not have pictures of the most excellent Almond n' M&M Chocolate Bark, or the Death by Chocolate Banana Muffins, which were another favourite of the work crew.

Now, if only these bananas will ripen a little bit faster ...

While I wait for those, how 'bout some gift wrapping and tree trimming?  Take a look at what else got my hands busy this holiday season!

So much to give, so little time!

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