Friends and family absolutely love to get surprise packages in the mail, and it’s even more special when you add a personal touch of a home-made treat. The problem with many baked goods is that they don’t ship well if they are crumbly or gooey. This chocolate bark is packed with holiday flavors, is easy to make, and is easy to ship your loved ones without a mess. Sit back and savor the thank-you’s (along with a little leftover bark).
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Tips for Using Candy Thermometers
Sometimes candy-making is avoided because using a candy thermometer is a kitchen tool that isn’t used very often. I rarely make candy, but the recipe below was easy and turned out great the first time around.
4 main things to be aware of that will help immensely:
- You have to work fast once the candy has reached the right temperature, so make sure and have all utensils, potholders & baking sheets prepped and ready;
- The candy gets really, really hot so be careful not to get any on your skin (it will burn). Make sure the thermometer is secured well on the pot (an alligator clip works well for the round thermometers) so you don’t have to be moving it around;
- Make sure the pot is the right size so the thermometer reaches down to the candy syrup;
- Try to get someone to help you when it is time to pour it out onto a baking sheet.
Recipes for Homemade Food for Care Packages
- Pumpkin Amaretto Bread is great for Fall or Halloween package
- Raspberry Swirl Brownies
- Spicy Peanut Brittle
- Chocolate Pistachio Quick Bread
- Low Carb Zucchini Coconut Bread is good for those on a diet
- Red Velvet Cookies are great for Valentines Day
- Red Crinkle Cookies – another easy treat for Valentines Day
- Pfeffernusse cookies are an often requested treat for Christmas packages
- Don’t forget something to drink! This herbal mint tea is a perfect pairing.
If you are sending care packages to college kids, be sure and check out these ideas that go beyond food.
Ritz Cracker Chocolate Bark
- 14 ounces Ritz crackers
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted
- ½ cup dried cherries tart cherries
- ¼ cup roasted hazelnuts chopped (can substitute other nuts)
- 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt or other flake salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Line a 10 x 14 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and using your hands, crumble the Ritz crackers onto the sheet to form a layer of crackers that extends to within about 1 inch of the baking sheet rims. Toast in the oven about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.14 ounces Ritz crackers
- In a saucepan that is deep enough to fit a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and still reach the bottom, heat up the sugar, honey and butter over medium-high, stirring occasionally until butter is melted.1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Secure the thermometer onto the side of the saucepan (an alligator clip will hold some models of thermometers, but make sure it is secured). Cook the mixture over med-high to high heat, whisking frequently, until thermometer reads 300° (about 8-10 minutes).
- Working quickly, turn off heat, stir in baking soda(it will bubble up), and pour out as evenly as possible over the Ritz cracker sheet.1 teaspoon baking soda
- Cool completely. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cooled cracker bark. Immediately top with cherries, nuts, chocolate chips and sea salt (sprinkle the toppings onto the melted chocolate so they will stick).6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt
- Cool until chocolate has hardened (about 15 minutes) and break bark into pieces. Wrap and keep chilled to store.
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