Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY chocolate dipped pretzel and oreo gift bags and my lack of self control (Blogmas day 3)

There are bits of crushed candy cane in my hair as I write this. 
Awesome? Weird? Disgusting? I'm undecided.

But these chocolate dipped pretzels and mint oreos? Awesome for sure. 

Since I only returned home from my first semester of college several days ago, I've been a little more than rushed to get Christmas presents for friends and family. Tomorrow will be my first (and hopefully only) day of actual Christmas shopping, but this year I'm faced with an interesting blend of new issues to confront.

They are as follows:
1. I have a ton of Jewish friends who don't celebrate Christmas (seriously though, EVERYONE at Emory is Jewish)
2. College has only increased my already profound stinginess, and spending money makes my heart cry
3. I know a lot more people who I consider close enough to exchange gifts with

I've always loved giving gifts, but between not wanting to spend money and not being sure who to buy Christmas gifts for and what size gift is appropriate, selecting gifts has stumped me this year. 

My solution? Chocolate coated everything.

Is there anything in the world better than melted chocolate? Let me answer that for you -- NO.
Yummy treats are the perfect gift for those people on your list who don't quite make it into spending territory, but who you still want to show some love to. I have a pretty decent sized group of teenage boys in my life who fall into this category, and you know what teenage boys love? Food. Especially chocolate coated food. Boys are so easy to please.

Even if your life isn't weirdly full of dorky teenage boys like mine is, these chocolate dipped oreos and pretzels are a great gift for anyone who likes chocolate or happiness. They're easy and cheap, but the fact that they're homemade (and delicious!) makes them more special than just a box of chocolates from the store.

While you could dip whatever you want (I'm probably going to do another batch tomorrow with candy canes, almonds, and dried fruits), I decided  to make chocolate dipped pretzels and mint oreos today. While I'm not personally a fan of oreos, these mint ones are pretty fantastic, and coated in semisweet chocolate and topped with crushed candy cane? Ohmygod. Give me twenty please.

I told myself going into this baking process that I was NOT going to eat any of the final product... ha. haha. ha. That worked out... not. I'm currently full of about 1/2 cup of melted chocolate and 3 (okay... 4) of these oreos. My willpower may be weak, but at least it's consistent? Chocolate chips have always been my weakness. I could eat them by the pound.

So while my cardio workout of the day just tripled in duration, I can say with absolute certainty that these are fabulous.

Chocolate chips pre-seizing disaster

To make these lovely little delights, just melt chocolate, crush some candy canes, dip objects of your desire in both, and refrigerate for a bit. Sounds easy, right? It is.

So naturally, I found a way to mess it up miserably. I accidentally got water in my chocolate while it was melting. For anyone who doesn't know, water + melted chocolate = seizing. Aka, the chocolate becomes clumpy and unusable....


I mixed mine with a little bit of melted butter, some warm almond milk, and some tender love and care. There's nothing a heartfelt apology can't fix apparently.

How cute is this salt shaker? My mother impulse bought it. It doubles as a great candy cane crusher.
Make sure you crush the candy canes in a well sealed bag. You may even want to double bag your candy canes if you're an aggressive candy-crusher (shout-out to my debate coach, James Herndon, candy-crusher extraordinaire!). You might poke holes in the bag, and extra protection never hurt anyone. Don't read into that.

I tried several different dipping techniques, but feel free to do whatever you like best. Half dipped, just covered in chocolate without the candy canes, whatever. My favorite ones were the pretzels coated on one side and dry on the other. They were the easiest to handle. But if you're a chocolate fanatic, the dunking strategy is effective. Just submerge your pretzels/oreos in a chocolate bath and revel in the goodness. Honestly, there's no way to go wrong with these (except I totally did, but whatever).

Happy dunking!

Chocolate-dipped (insert pretty much anything here)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
Mint oreos
3-5 Candy Canes

1. Pour chocolate chips into microwavable bowl and melt on medium to low heat in thirty second intervals in the microwave until melted completely, stirring in between 
2. Line baking sheet with wax paper (I used parchment paper because I was out of wax paper)
3. Unwrap 3-5 candy canes and place in a plastic bag, crush with rolling pin or any hard/heavy object
4. Pour crushed candy canes onto plate, and distribute evenly
5. Using your hands or a fork, dip oreos and pretzels into the chocolate. Coat thoroughly in layer of chocolate, or as much as you desire
6. Set in crushed candy cane then place on lined baking sheet
7. Once baking sheet is full, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes

Reindeer treat bags to give away goodies in -- These cost practically nothing and are super cute

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