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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Making eatable gifts for Christmas

I know that everyone is in full swing with their Christmas present shopping. With the prices of everything going up, why not head to the kitchen and make some edible presents. In my opinion, cooking is the greatest form of expressing yourself. I would rather have something cooked or homemade as a present than something that anyone can buy in the store.

So what should we make for these presents? Here are three sweets that make perfect gifts: Peanut Butter Balls, Chocolate Cookies, and White Chocolate Pralines. Any one of these or a combination of them would be a wonderful treat. Let’s turn on some Christmas music and head to the kitchen!

Peanut Butter Balls is my all time favorite sweet for the holidays. The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is a perfect match. It’s no wonder that my favorite candy is a peanut butter cup. Those pre-made candies are no match for the down-home flavor of these wonderful treats.

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter and butter together in a mixing bowl. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar until combined well into a dough ball. If needed, add more powdered sugar a little at a time until mixture holds together in a large ball. Cover and let peanut butter dough sit for about 15 minutes to firm up.

Shape into 1-inch balls, place on a baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow balls to firm up. Dough balls should hold shape before dipping in chocolate. Add more refrigeration time if necessary.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler, over simmering water.

Dip peanut butter balls one at a time into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheet, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cookies are perfect holiday treats. What else are you going to put out on the plate for Santa Clause? You may want to make a double batch when you make these. For some reason, the first few always seem to get eaten as soon as they come out of the oven.

Chocolate Cookies

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 tablespoons salted butter

2/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate baking chips

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Heat semisweet chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted: do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix flour mixture until just combined. Stir in 60% bittersweet chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until cookies are shiny and crackly, yet soft in the centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; then transfer to racks to cool completely.

When you think of New Orleans candy, pralines are the first thing to come to mind. Winter time is a great time to make them, as the humidity is lower and the pralines form better. Here’s a twist on the traditional version with white chocolate. I guarantee they will disappear quickly.

White Chocolate Pralines

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup pecans

2 (1 ounce) white chocolate baking squares

Combine all ingredients. Cook on low, stirring constantly until sugar and butter melts. Bring to a boil and increase heat to medium. Continue to stir constantly for 3 minutes or until a Candy Thermometer reaches 230℉. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to thicken. This may take up to 5 minutes. Working rapidly, drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper coated with cooking spray.

As much as I love to cook, I always enjoy it more during the holiday season. I love to share my talents with people I care about. What better way than to surprise them with some edible presents? I know that their sweet tooth will thank you!

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