Classic Christmas “Sweeties” Part 3 ~ by Pam Crooks

If you read my blogs the past two months, you’ll notice a definite theme.

Candy.

My little series began in October with “Satisfying that Old-Time Craving for Sweeties” – you can read it here – and focused on candy from the 1800s.

The sweeties moved on to mid-20th century and featured treats we remembered from our youth, and it was great to reminisce with you!  You can read that blog here.

This month, we’re movin’ on up to modern day treats, and what better time of year to talk about candy than at Christmas?

The classic treats, of course, are candy canes, fudge of all varieties, chocolate-wrapped candy, and sugar cookies frosted and decorated. We could mention divinity, peanut brittle, ribbon candy, or peppermint nougats, too.

traditional christmas candy, old fashioned candy

The list is infinite.  But one thing I can say for certain is that no Christmas is complete without ALMOND BARK!

Yep. The basis for so many treats today is incredibly easy to work with. It’s a magical treat that the hard-working housewives of the 1800s had never heard of.  Likely not the ones from the mid-century, either.

Though I have scoured the Internet, I could not find the origin of almond bark anywhere.  But I know it’s been around for decades. The first time I’d ever heard of it was the seventies, I believe.  I remember being at a grocery store and finding almond bark for the first time. I intended to make some amazing peanut clusters that I’d heard about, and one of my classmate’s mother noticed me studying the package for directions and asked me how to use it. We stood in the aisle discussing the marvels of almond bark, and it’s been a staple in my house ever since!

The name almond bark is a bit of an anomaly. It does not contain any nuts, though it is very often used to coat them. It’s more of a confectionary coating rather than real chocolate since it does not contain cocoa butter.  Instead, it contains other fats like cottonseed or palm oil. Almond bark usually is sold in one pound slabs, supposedly to resemble bark.  I don’t really get that part, but whatever, right? It could also be called candy melts, candy wafers, candy coating, or summer coating.

The best news about almond bark? Your microwave does all the work!  No double-boilers or extra ingredients.  It’s so incredibly versatile, I couldn’t possibly tell you all the ways you can use it.

But here are a few ideas:

 

 

I can’t resist adding this one!  Elf Snack Mix from Shanna Hatfield’s COWBOY CHRISTMAS. So good!

AMAZON

Of course, you want the recipe, right?  

ELF SNACK MIX

 

10 cups popped popcorn

1 cup cocktail peanuts

2 cups mini pretzels

1 bag red and green M&Ms

1 package white almond bark (or candy melts)

1/4 cup Christmas sprinkles, optional

 

Combine popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, and M&Ms. Set aside.

 

Melt almond bark/candy melts according to package directions. Pour over popcorn mixture.

 

Stir well to coat. Top with Christmas sprinkles, if desired.

 

Store in an airtight container.

 

So there you go!  Classic Christmas treats made from almond bark that are super easy, extra delicious, and more importantly, microwavable!

What is the one Christmas treat that you make every year without fail?

Do you have a favorite almond bark recipe?

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but her newest releases are contemporary sweet romances featuring the Blackstone Ranch series published by Tule Publishing. Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

31 thoughts on “Classic Christmas “Sweeties” Part 3 ~ by Pam Crooks”

  1. I love making fudge.

    When I melt chocolate, I use Guittard. They have a couple of grades, and I use one with real chocolate. I’ve made old-fashioned coconut bonbons, chocolate-covered cherries, peanut butter cups, solids, I even have a mold to make a 3D chocolate cabin.

    • Guittard – NICE! Sounds like you go first class all the way, Denise. Some think that Guittard is even better than Ghiradelli, which I’ve always thought was the best.

      You sound like a great cook (a 3D chocolate cabin???), and you taught me something today. I’d love to make chocolate-covered cherries sometime, too.

      Merry Christmas, my friend!

      • maraschino cherries, drained
        4oz dry fondant
        3 tbs cherry juice
        melted chocolate

        mix fondant and juice

        fill molds 1/3 full and paint up the side, leaving no bubbles
        put 1/4 teaspoon juice mixture in mold then add cherry, then fill mold with chocolate and smooth the top

        DO NOT TAP the mold down or the cherry will rise.

        Freeze 6-7 minutes to set.

        if you want the cherries brandied, soak the drained cherries in brandy at least a week.

  2. I love anything chocolate and I agree Guittard is an excellent chocolate. My favorite chocolate dessert is anything chocolate. I always buy the best I can afford but every so often I pull out my old recipes or search on the web for something new, just for the sake of chocolate. I like to take a recipe and simply jazz it up with what kind of chocolate I have . My last creation was a strawberry shortcake made with slices of fresh strawberries, dipped into thr warm chocolate and put on wire racks so the extra chocolate can drip off . I then make shortcake, and slice into serving pieces. I whip up some fresh cream and then – cake, chocolate covered strawberries, whipped cream and then repeat, and then eat. Of course I tell everyone this version is “good for you” because isn’t the rule that when has chocolate in it that the dessert has no calories?

    • Another Guittard fan! And Oh. My. Goodness. Your strawberry shortcake sounds devine, abqnancy!!! What an elegant dessert. I wish you lived next door to me!

      Thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas!

    • Oh, no, you don’t, Laura. You can’t just say “almond rocha” without telling us about it!!! Now you’re going to make me run to Google and learn more about what that is.

      But it sounds fabulous.

      Merry Christmas – and thank you for stopping by this morning.

    • Well, Debra, anything with peanut butter has got to be good, right? But you’ll have to tell us more about it. Any chocolate in them thar’ whirls?

      Merry Christmas!

  3. Love this! Almond bark is a staple in our house. Our favorites are covered Oreos, covered pretzels and chocolate molds.

    • Another almond bark lover!! Oh, my goodness, yes. Covered Oreos are so, so good and EASY! Don’t you just love the picture in my blog? So colorful and festive!

      Merry Christmas, Susan!

  4. I make peanut butter balls and peppermint patties that are dipped but I usually just use chocolate chips. I never have tried the almond bark. I also make chocolate fudge and peanut butter fudge. Sometimes I make a snack mix with all different things and cover in white chocolate.

    • Oh, quilt lady. You really must try the almond bark. You’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner. It really is good, if nothing else as a time-saver.

      My daughter makes a peanut butter ball that is so creamy, it melts in your mouth. You sound like a great cook.

      Now I want FUDGE.

      Merry Christmas, dear lady.

  5. I love making cookies with different toppings. These give me ideas. Thanks
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Hey, Lori – glad we gave you some new ideas. Part of the fun of holiday baking is going through old recipes and finding new ones in your favorite cookbooks or online. Some food blogs are just amazing – and never mind Pinterest – when you need inspiration, right?

      Merry Christmas!

  6. I make a recipe called Connealy Crunch.
    It is the BEST.
    Connealy Crunch
    2 pound package white Almond Bark (melted)
    Melt in microwave 1 ½ minutes. Stir. Melt 1 ½ minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose its shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if it’s enough. Add:
    3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal
    3 C. miniature marshmallows
    3 C. Rice Krispies
    3 C. mixed nuts
    Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into pieces.

  7. Another fav is Baby Ruth Bars
    Baby Ruth Bars
    ½ C. white sugar
    ½ C. brown sugar
    1 C. white syrup
    Mix together in sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Add:
    1 C. peanut butter
    Mix thoroughly. Pour over:
    6 C. cornflakes
    1 C. peanuts
    Press into 9 x 13 pan.
    Frosting:
    1 C. chocolate chips
    1 C. butterscotch chips
    Melt in microwave. Should be enough.
    Spread over cornflake mixture

    We also throw out the cornflakes and sub Rice Chex, then this is gluten free!
    Sometimes we leave off the chocolate frosting and they are just as delicious.

  8. When the kids were little I baked SO MUCH. But not anymore. We just don’t need all the sweets. Some of those pictures, Pam. the peanut buttered Ritz Crackers, frosted with Almond Bark is a favorite. And I love those little round pretzels with the almond bark and an M & M. But honestly you can’t do better than to just melt the almond bark and pour it over mixed nuts. Absolutely perfect, fast, delicious.

    • Salted peanuts stirred into the almond bark is how I got started with my almond bark addiction. I make it every year, and they freeze beautifully.

      I’m with you, Mary – I miss, MISS, baking for my family like I did when all the girls lived at home. Hubby doesn’t have the sweet tooth that I have, so I have scaled way, way back on my baking throughout the year.

      But Christmas? I can’t NOT bake, so I make platefuls and share with the granddarlings. The next best thing.

      Thanks for stopping by this morning, my friend.

  9. I make Christmas sugar cookies like my aunt used to. She would cut out stocking shapes then she would use one as the bottom. On top of this she would sprinkle chocolate chips, pieces of Maraschino cherries, and mini marshmallows. She would then place another stocking on top of this and seal the edges and bake. She would use a small amount of white frosting on the top and leave the rest uncrossed. When you got a stocking cookie you always knew it had wonderful gifts in each bite! These are my very favorite Christmas treat!

    • Oh, this sounds absolutely wonderful! I love “wonderful gifts in each bite” !!! Treats inside the stocking…love, love it!!

      Thanks for sharing, Vicki! I’m saving this one.

      Merry Christmas!

  10. I make a Peppermint Cookie using a simple snickerdoodle recipe and after frosting cookies sprinkle on crushed Peppermint candies.

    • Oh, this is a new one for me, too. Who doesn’t love a snickerdoodle, but I’ve never heard of crushed peppermint candies on top.

      Another must try!! Thank you, Jackie!

      Merry Christmas!

  11. Hi, you know I have never used Almond Bark, but it sounds good and easy enough. I love Chocolate dipped Pretzel sticks . Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, and letting me know about the Almond Bark, I have seen it in stores but I have never tried it, Thank you. Have a great week and stay safe.

  12. Every year, the grandkids ask for Carmels. I like to make pretzels dipped in almond bark. So easy. I enjoy the sweet salty tastes. I enjoyed reading all the recipes and memories shared today. Merry Christmas!

  13. I have never used almond bark in the slabs. I have gotten the candy melts in a variety of colors, and used them as some of the decorations on gingerbread houses. I really did not realize how versatile they are.
    Of the many things I like to make during the holidays Bourbon Balls are the one thing I manage to make every year. They aren’t that hard and are pretty good. The original recipe called for run, but I like the bourbon better. You do need to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips and blend in the corn syrup and bourbon. I will confess to using a bit more Bourbon than the recipe calls for, but it makes them more moist and delicious. They are kept refrigerated in a sealed container and do keep for a relatively long time, if everyone would stop snitching them.

    • What a cute idea above with the round pretzels. It is super easy and kids will love them. They would dress up any cookie tray. Now that I know how easy almond bark is to use, I will start getting creative with it.

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