Brian and I ended up making three of the gifts (well five, technically, but three are in the same “category” so I’m grouping them together… this will make more sense soon) I featured in my Crafty Christmas series pre-Christmas. I was very excited to try a few handmade gifts and now I’ve totally caught the bug and can’t wait to try more adventurous handmade items.
The biggest undertaking was the sweet treats I made, mostly because I (for some unknown reason) decided to make them all in one morning. Not the best plan as far as maintaining one’s sanity goes, but thankfully they all turned out very well (if I do say so myself!).
The first of the three treats, and the most challenging, was salted chocolate caramel from Smitten Kitchen.
As far as I’m concerned, she is a total genius and I knew I could trust her recipe (which was important since I was giving these to my *new* relatives and I didn’t want them to gag). And, oh man, she didn’t disappoint. These were so amazingly rich, I still can’t believe I made them!
I decided to individually wrap them in wax paper, which was easier than I thought it would be and, with all the traveling, kept the caramels looking good (and not all stuck together).
I followed her recipe pretty much to a tee, so I’m not going to do deprive you of her wit and humor by summarizing it here. Just go check it out on Smitten Kitchen – trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The other two treats I made were Oreo and Nutterbutter balls, a recipe I found at Bakerella, another baking master. Initially I was only going to make one treat to bring with me to Brian’s family Kentucky, but these were just too easy and too tasty sounding to not do. Plus Carlos kept telling me about how amazing they were…
There are only really four steps to this recipe: first crush the cookies, then mix in cream cheese and make into 1″ balls, dip the balls in chocolate, cool and eat! Boy oh boy are they scrumptious…
A few notes on the cookie balls (I’m just not crazy about this name – anyone have any cuter suggestions?):
1. I found that softening the cream cheese in the microwave for 10-15 seconds helped a lot with the mixing process and didn’t alter the consistency.
2. I dipped the Oreo balls in white chocolate and the Nutter Butter balls in milk chocolate.
3. I don’t have a double boiler to melt the chocolate for dipping, but a glass bowl over a pot of slowly boiling water worked just fine.
4. I added about six drops of mint extract to part of the Oreo mix and it was like Thin Mint heaven. I also added green globs to the top of the mint Oreo balls to distinguish them – I need some tips on using a decorating tool.
What do you think? Have you made anything like these before? Any tips out there for me?