Turn a everyday snack into a crunchy and clever food gift.
Prep: 40 minutes Bake: 8 to 10 minutes per batch
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Canned chocolate frosting
Miniature pretzel twists
Red candy-coated chocolate-covered peanuts
Brown candy-coated milk chocolate pieces
1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough halves, one at a time, until ¼ inch thick. Cut with a 2-inch triangular cookie cutter. (Or shape each half of dough into an 8-inch square. Cut each square into sixteen 2-inch squares. Cut each 2-inch square in half diagonally to make 64 triangles total.) Place triangles 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
4. For each reindeer, pipe a little frosting on the backs of two pretzels; attach to the long side of each cookie for antlers. Use frosting to attach a red candy-coated chocolate-covered peanut to the opposite point for a nose. Pipe two dots of frosting for eyes and attach brown candy-coated chocolate pieces. Let stand until frosting is set. Layer cookies between waxed paper in a rectangular plastic storage container; cover. Makes 64 cookies.
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS: Do not decorate cookies, if freezing. Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container, cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies and decorate as above.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Fill the plastic container with the cookies. Cut a piece of brown felt into a triangle the width of the lid; attach to the lid of the container using fabric glue. Add two craft eyes and a black pom-pom for the nose to the felt using fabric glue. To create the antlers, twist a 3-inch piece of pipe cleaner around each end of one long pipe cleaner. Twist the long pipe cleaner around the headband and place the headband on the width of the container.
Triple-Treat Pretzel Wands
Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 10 minutes Stand: 1 hour
1½ cups chopped mixed nuts
1 14-ounce package (about 50) vanilla caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons whipping cream, half-and-half, or light cream
18 large pretzel rods
2 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating
1 teaspoon shortening
2 ounces chocolate-flavor candy coating
1. Butter a large baking sheet; set aside. Spread nuts in an even layer on a plate; set aside.
2. In a heavy medium saucepan, heat and stir caramels and cream over medium-low heat just until caramels are melted. Reduce heat to low.
3. Hold each pretzel rod by one end over the pan and spoon hot caramel mixture evenly over three-fourths of the pretzel; shake off excess. Roll coated part of rod in nuts, turning to coat all sides. Place rods on prepared baking sheet and let stand about 30 minutes or until caramel is set.
4. In a small heavy saucepan, melt candy coating and ½ teaspoon of the shortening. In another small heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate-flavor candy coating and the remaining ½ teaspoon of shortening. Carefully spoon each candy coating mixture into a heavy resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner of each bag.
5. Transfer pretzel rods to a sheet of waxed paper. Drizzle some of each mixture over the caramel and nuts on each rod, turning to coat all sides. Return rods to baking sheet and let stand about 30 minutes or until firm. Makes 18 wands.
MAKE-AHEAD DIRECTIONS: Place pretzels in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Wrap strips of wide ribbon around the container (make sure all strips start and end on the same side), affixing each with crafts glue. Starting from the base of the side on which all the wide ribbons attach, glue one long piece of accenting narrow ribbon up to form a handle and back down the other side to the base. Add a narrow ribbon strip to the center of the container for added interest. Dress up the lid with a coordinating sticker label, if desired.
Black and White Pretzels
Prep: 45 minutes Stand: 1 hour
6 ounces chocolate-flavor candy coating, chopped (1 cup)
4 cups small pretzel twists (6 ounces)
¼ cup white sprinkles (jimmies)
6 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating, chopped (1 cup)
¼ cup chocolate-flavor sprinkles (jimmies)
1. Line a large baking sheet pan with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl microwave chocolate candy coating, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 minutes or until candy coating melts, stirring every 30 seconds.
2. Dip one side of each pretzel twist into melted chocolate candy coating. Let excess drip off. Place coated pretzels on prepared baking sheet. Decorate with white sprinkles. Let stand for about 30 minutes or until coating is set.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl microwave vanilla candy coating, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 minutes or until candy coating melts, stirring every 30 seconds.
4. Holding onto the chocolate-coated side of a pretzel, dip the uncoated side into melted vanilla candy coating. Let excess drip off. Place coated pretzel on prepared baking sheet. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles. Repeat with other pretzels. Let stand for about 30 minutes or until coating is set. Makes 5½ cups coated pretzels.
TO STORE: Layer pretzels between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
TIP: For an easier method, dip half of the pretzels into melted chocolate-flavor candy coating and coat with white sprinkles. Dip the remaining pretzels into melted vanilla-flavor candy coating; coat with chocolate sprinkles.