Four Easy Sweet Recipes for Christmas Parties & Gifts

6:13 PM

It's that most wonderful time of the year, and that means there's so much to do. When you have last minute gifts (Shutterfly photo gifts, anyone?), or perhaps a dessert to make for a party the night before or day of, there are always certain recipes and items you tend to fall back on. How do I know? Because I do the same thing! And here I am giving away my secrets and sharing four of my favorite Christmas recipes with you.

These are the four sweets I tend to use for gift bags to neighbors or movie-nights with good friends, but they have the potential to be party hits; I know if you served these at your next shin-dig or brought them to the office party, you would be the talk of the guests (in a good way, of course).

Listed in order, you'll find in this post:

Hot Chocolate Cookies

White Chocolate Chex Mix (with a minty option)

Peppermint Oreo Fudge

Nutcracker Sweets



So, let's get this party started!

Hot Chocolate Cookies


Ingredients:

- 1 C salted butter
- 1 C sugar
- 2/3 C brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1.5 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/4 C all purpose, unbleached flour
- 4 packs of hot chocolate mix (I used swiss miss, which are just under 1oz, but up to 1oz packets works!)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1.5 - 2 C semi sweet chocolate chips
*optional: for half of the batch I added the mint chocolate chips, because, well, I love mint chocolate!*
- 1/2 C - 1 C mini marshmallows
*optional: if you have the time, freeze the marshmallows so they are easier to mix in to the mix. However, your cookies won't be quite as gooey if you freeze them.*

Directions:
(These can be made the night before or a couple hours before your get together! If you're in a big rush, I suggest making a half batch. A full recipe makes around four dozen cookies.)

- Preheat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheet with parchment paper (if you don't have it, just spray it well with cooking spray!)
- In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugars. Next add in your eggs and vanilla.
- Mix together your flour, hot chocolate, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add it gradually to your butter mix until well combined. It will get thick, so if you don't have a standing mixer you will eventually have to switch to mixing by hand (I know, because I had to do it!)
- Fold in your chocolate chips. Save your marshmallows for the end.
- When scooping the cookies, be gentle. I only mixed the marshmallows in slightly to the mix and then placed them in my cookie scoop by hand. That way they didn't get all stretched out or broken into gooey pieces. But, no matter what, it will still be delicious!

TIP: If you want to avoid caramelized marshmallow oozing out of the cookies, make sure to patch the sides with extra dough and cover those marshmallows!



- Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will appear slightly soft/not cooked when you take them out. Let them sit on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
These are best served/devoured warm, but if you're planning on taking them to a party you can heat them up for a few seconds before transporting them!


White Chocolate Chex Mix


Ingredients:

- 2.5 C Rice Chex
- 2.5 C Corn Chex
- 1 C salted/unsalted mini pretzels (salted is probably better, but I used unsalted because it's all I could find)
- 1 C cashews (or peanuts, or whatever kind of nut you desire)
- 12 oz bag M&M's
- 12 oz bag white chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp [vegetable/canola] oil

Directions:
(Best made the night before or at least 2-3 hours in advance)

- In a large bowl, mix your chex (both kinds), cashews, pretzels, and M&M's.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a saucepan over low heat, mix your white chocolate chips and oil and melt. Mix constantly to prevent it from burning or getting too thick.
- As soon as the chocolate/oil is completely melted, pour into your prepared dry mix. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until well incorporated and distributed through the mix.
- Pour the mix onto the prepared baking sheets, spreading out as thinly as possible. Let sit for an hour before checking to see if it's dry. Give it as much time as needed. I let mine sit for at least two hours to make sure it wasn't sticky.
- Break apart the mix and return to bowl/sealed container.

Want to make it minty? Use mint m&m's and melt some mint Hershey's Kisses along with the white chocolate chips! Same directions apply.

Give away, devour, it's your choice.
This is something perfect to munch on. My personal favorite for Christmas movie-nights.


Peppermint Oreo Fudge


This fudge is pretty much made up of my three favorite things: chocolate, peppermint, and, well... it's fudge. This is holiday-perfection in my book, and so easy to make, too!

Ingredients:

- 1 bag of chocolate chips or morsels (I used dark chocolate)
- 1 bag Hershey kisses
- 1 bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses
- 2 bags white chocolate chips (minus 1/2 C)
- 1/3 to 1/2 C Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips

- 2 cans 14 oz condensed milk
- 2 C crushed Oreos (about 1.5 rows out of the standard pack)

Directions:
(You're going to want to make this one the day before, because it needs to sit in the fridge for a good five hours to set. That means you can make it, let it sit overnight, and wow everyone the next day with your amazing dessert!)

- Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper and light spray it.
- Pour all your [semi-sweet, milk, or dark] chocolate chips into a large saucepan with your entire bag of Hershey kisses (sans wrappers, obviously) and one can of condensed milk. Over low heat, melt the chocolates, stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom.
*Note: Do not do ANYTHING but low heat. I tried, and it did not work. The chocolates burned and I may or may not have had to buy new supplies and start all over again... maybe.

- Once the chocolates are well melted (should be pulling away from sides with very few "bumps" in it), carefully fold in one cup of crushed Oreos. Spread the mixture over the bottom of your prepared baking dish as evenly as possible. Place in fridge temporarily.
- Wash out your saucepan. Next, add your white chocolate chips, Andes mint pieces, and condensed milk. Proceed to melt over low heat, as done previously, stirring occasionally. You want to stir these a little more because if they burn you will see it!


- When these are done melting, take your dish out of the fridge and spread it over the already prepared chocolate fudge mix.
- Sprinkle your remaining Oreos on top, as well as extra Andes mint pieces if desired, and slightly/gently press them into the fudge.


- Place in the fridge for at least five hours, but preferably over night.
- Set your fudge out and give it a few (at least ten, I'd say) minutes before attempting to cut it.

This is definitely a party food. I've brought it to several get togethers and it never fails. I have yet to leave without at least one person asking for the recipe!


Nutcracker Sweets


Before my husband and I married, I had never had this deliciousness. Our first Christmas party with his family his little sister made them and I've been hooked ever since. It's like an easy toffee to make, so if you're a toffee fan...prepare to be addicted!

Ingredients:

- 12-14 whole graham crackers (as many that will line a standard baking sheet)
- 1 C butter
- 1 C brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 C chopped pecans
- chocolate syrup

Directions:
(Make these the night before or a solid few hours, because they are sticky and you want to give it time to set!)

- Line your baking sheet first with parchment paper, then with your graham crackers.
- Preheat your oven to 350.



- On the stove over medium heat, melt your butter. Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time, for one minute. You don't want it to get chunky!
- Remove the mix from heat and add your vanilla. Mix well, then pour the mix over your graham crackers. Use the back of a spoon to spread it as evenly as you can over the graham crackers.
- Sprinkle the chopped pecans over your creation. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes (I always do 10 so the edges get nice and bubbly/ dare I say a little "burned".)



- Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly. Move to a plate (on the parchment paper if possible). Drizzle with chocolate syrup *this part is optional*.
- After they cool, break them up as you like!
These are perfect sweets to give away in a tin or mail to someone who may not be close enough to enjoy them.


This time of year is nothing if you don't have a few recipes on hand when needed. Let me know if you get some raves (or perhaps just want to offer them yourself) after eating/serving/giving any of these away!

Merry Christmas!


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