Gifting Homemade Goodies

It's been crazy here... swamped at work and going to various holiday get togethers. It's funny how busy I seem to get right before I head out on vacation. I like it though, since it makes me appreciate my time off even more.

Anyhow, I've been so busy, I almost forgot to get together my Food52 Secret Santa gift. Aack! I combed through some magazines to find some recipes. Bon Appetit came to the rescue again with two delicious offerings.

First up, Butterscotch Blondie Bars. Loads and loads of peanuts. If you don't like peanuts, not for you. But I liked the mix of peanuts and pretzels. I used some thick pretzel sticks since Trader Joe's didn't have the twirly pretzels.

Battery yumminess

Watching that sugar caramelize 

Pouring on the sticky goodness

Lots of caramel peanuts

Zee final product

There were a lot of peanuts. I actually saved a cupful of the caramel-peanut-pretzel mixture and just spread it out on a baking sheet. Then I stuck that in the fridge and made myself some peanut brittle-like bar thingys. Lovely midnight snack.

After the blondies, I had to get some of her darker cousins in on this. Chocolate-Almond Bark with Sea Salt decided to join the party. I used very dark chocolate, like 72%. But the sweetness of the caramelized almonds toned it down a bit.

What a hunk of chocolate

Finally, I saw this post last week on a Chocolate Caramel Ornament. (There seems to be running theme here with salt and caramel.) Anyhow, it looked so cool and I had to try it.

I made up some more caramel and poured some into the glass ornament. Only problem is, the caramel hardened at the bottom of the ornament. Like, crack-your-teeth-if-you-try-to-bite-into-it hardened. It wouldn't melt with hot milk. But I guess a few layers must have dissolved because the drink was fairly sweet. Next time, I'll use a caramel sauce, but I couldn't here as it's milk-based, which I don't think will travel well.

Everything was tucked into a box along with a chocolate sprinkle-filled straw. And a handmade card.

So much fun! Hopefully my recipient enjoys it. I think I'll make a few more boxes like this for friends in town. But it will have to wait since in 8 hours, I will be on a plane and starting my vacation!!

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