A Sweet Taste of the Holidays

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark
Makes 12 servings, 2 to 3 pieces each
Smooth white chocolate and refreshing peppermint combine in a candy-striped confection that looks and tastes like the holidays.

1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 drops red food color
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Microwave chocolate chips in large microwavable bowl on HIGH for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract.

Spread on large foil-lined baking sheet to 1/4-inch thickness. Add food color, drop by drop, over mixture. Using a wooden skewer, swirl color through chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candies, pressing lightly into chocolate with spatula.

Refrigerate 10 minutes or until firm. Break into irregular pieces to serve. Store in covered container at cool room temperature or in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Peppermint Bars

Peppermint Bars
Makes 36 servings
An extravagant dessert of a fudgy brownie layered with peppermint frosting and a rich chocolate glaze. You’ll want to include this in a holiday dessert tray or package for a cookie exchange or gift basket.

1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 7 tablespoons butter, divided
1-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
Crushed peppermint candies (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Spread in greased foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Meanwhile, beat powdered sugar, 7 tablespoons of the melted butter, cream and peppermint extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over cooled brownie. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Microwave chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in large microwave bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownie. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, if desired. Cut into bars.

PeppermintTruffleCookies2

Peppermint Truffle Cookies
Makes 3 dozen (1 cookie) servings
A chocolate surprise awaits you when you bite into these rich truffle-like cookies.

8 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
2 cups flour
36 milk chocolate kiss-shaped candies, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until butter is melted.

Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, egg and peppermint extract. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually beat in flour on low speed until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Press a chocolate candy into the center of each ball, forming dough around the candy to completely enclose it. Roll in remaining 1/2 cup sugar to coat. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

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Eggnog Truffles
Makes 2 dozen or 12 (2 truffle) servings.
Eggnog Truffles make a great holiday or hostess gift. Package the truffles in a holiday tin between wax paper.

1 pound white baking chocolate, divided
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract

Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate as directed on package. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, nutmeg and extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed mixer until well blended and smooth. Add melted chocolate; beat until well mixed. Cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until firm.

Shape into 24 (about 3/4-inch) balls. Place on wax paper-lined tray. Refrigerate until ready to dip.

Coat only 12 truffles at a time. Melt 4 ounces of the remaining chocolate in small microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50% power) 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Using a fork, dip 1 truffle at a time into the melted chocolate. Tap back of fork 2 or 3 times against edge of dish to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place truffles on wax paper-lined tray. If there are any bald spots on truffle, cover with melted chocolate that remains on the fork.

Sprinkle truffles with nutmeg. Repeat with remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and remaining truffles.

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