Treats for Your Sweets

Welcome to my yummy snack that I had while in the middle of making and baking. Greek yogurt with honey and raspberries along with a French Vanilla Hot Cocoa topped with whipped cream and peppermint marshmallows. I had to self indulge for a little after being surrounded by chocolate, sugar, chocolate, toffee, chocolate, peppermint…did I say chocolate?
I started making Valentine’s Day goodies several years back and my children have developed favorites, and so have I. Since three of them will not be home on this day of love, I had to send them some love….
and some junk food to make them feel at home. We have culled out certain recipes over the years and the following seem to be the tried and true. Out went the packages yesterday and my kitchen has regained a sense of normalcy today. It takes a little time to individually package them up but they look so pretty and make great little tokens of love, appreciation and friendship. 
I like to start with the baked goods first and then while they are baking, move onto the items that I can make while the cookies are baking. I had a couple of requests for chocolate chip cookies and happened to find a new recipe on the back of the large bag of Ghirardelli semi sweet morels that I purchased at Sam’s Club. They are the best chips for melting in the microwave when you want to cover things in chocolate…and who does not want to cover things in chocolate?
So the first item to bake was the cookies. As they were baking, I lined up all of the Pretzel Snaps from Snyder’s of Hanover on the cookie sheets. It helps to have have a helper with this but since my main helper is in college 🙁 
and my other potentials were either sleeping or in school…or maybe in school sleeping…just kidding teachers! I was in this alone so patience is a virtue but the pay offs are really tasty.
To assemble the M & M Chocolate Pretzels follow the steps below:
1. Line up pretzels so they are level on a baking sheet. As you are doing this, let the oven preheat to 250 degrees.
2. Top each pretzel with either a chocolate melt, 2 or 3 chocolate chips or one Ghirardelli chip. 
3. Pop in the over and watch carefully so that they bake just until the chocolate softens.
4. Once the chocolate is soft, top with an M & M or a marshmallow or a caramel chocolate candy…yum. Let cool 
After those were assembled I moved onto the Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Oreos

1. Pour 2 cups of the Ghirardelli semi sweet morsels into a plastic container that is microwave safe or a bowl that you do not mind trashing when you are finished. When melting chocolate this way, it hardens pretty quickly onto the bowl which makes it tough to clean. I use the same container over and over again. Just pop it into a large Ziploc bag once finished and store with your baking accessories.  Follow the instructions on the bag but I have found that the chocolate melts the best if you put it in the micro for 30 seconds at a time and stir in between each 30 seconds. Stop when the chocolate is soft and gooey. Do not over cook for it gets too hard and will not dip well.
2. Dip 3/4 of the pretzel into the melted chocolate or you can coat the whole thing which is quite a bit messier. Set the pretzel onto a large sheet of wax paper to let dry a bit. Before the chocolate dries (you know it is dry when the chocolate clouds over) dip the pretzel into whatever topping you desire. Here I used toffee bits which is our family favorite.

 Other toppings that are great are mini chocolate chips, mini M & M’s, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, chopped nuts, really anything that is tasty and will adhere to the chocolate. After dipping or sprinkling on the toppings, set them back down on the wax paper until dry.

Repeat the same process with Oreos if you so desire…and who would not desire a chocolate covered Oreo?
I always round out the treats with a homemade hot chocolate mix. I have done different flavors in the past but this year I did a French Vanilla Hot Cocoa Mix

This recipe makes a large amount of 19 1/2 cups. You can cut it in half if you do not need as much

1 box (1 pound 10 ounces) nonfat dry milk (8 cups)
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 jars (8 ounces each) French vanilla flavored nondairy creamer or another flavor of your choice
1 jar (11 ounces) nondairy creamer
1 box  (1 pound ) chocolate milk mix
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
In a very large bowl, combine all ingredients; stir until well blended. store in an airtight container until packaging.
You can package in brown paper lunch bags sealed with a heart doily or in canning jars like the above photo.
 Cellophane bags make another great option. 
Kraft paper cardboard boxes with glassine windows make a nice way to display the treats as well.
Use your imagination on how you want to label them but be sure to enclose or attach serving directions.
To serve: Stir 3 heaping tablespoons into 6 ounces hot water. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!

You can add some chocolate candy wrapped in festive colors to the cellophane bags to add some dimension.
I added some of their favorites to my sweets packages and off they went…in time for a Valentine arrival.
Mission accomplished…now it is time to have a Valentine’s Day themed drink.
I am really going out on a limb here with a sparkling strawberry lemonade.
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

~Charles M. Schultz

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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