How To Make Homemade Christmas Gifts

A homemade Christmas gift is not only an economical way to celebrate the season, but a gift made especially for someone adds a personalized touch that can often be more thoughtful than a store-bought gift.

Here's how to make peppermint bark - an easy gift for someone who loves sweets. These thin layers of chocolate are covered with pieces of candy cane and broken into large pieces. To make peppermint bark, you will need a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a small package of candy canes.

  1. First, line a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper.
  2. Next, put several candy canes in a Ziploc bag. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed and begin to gently crush the candy with a hammer or rolling pin until the candy canes are crushed into very small pieces, as small as you desire.
  3. Then, melt the chocolate chips, either by using a double boiler over the stove, or simply microwaving a bowl of the chips for one minute. Stir the heated chocolate, continuing to heat the chips in the microwave at 15-20 second intervals until smooth and melted.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet and spread evenly to make a thin layer, approximately 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Open the Ziploc bag of crushed candy canes and sprinkle the pieces onto the layer of chocolate. Sprinkle as much or as little of the candy topping on the chocolate as you wish.
  6. Refrigerate one hour or until chocolate is hardened. When the peppermint bark is set, break the sheet of chocolate into large pieces by using a butter knife in a jabbing motion on the center of the sheet. This will help break it into natural, slightly jagged pieces.
  7. Package the bark in festive holiday-themed Ziploc bags, or any airtight container.

There are also many variations on peppermint bark that can be experimented with. White chocolate can replace milk or dark chocolate, and M&M's or Reese's Pieces can substitute the candy canes. Crumbled cookies also make a fun chocolate bark topping. White Chocolate with a crumbled Oreo topping makes a great "Cookies and Cream Bark." The preparation is the same, but crushing the small candies is not necessary.

Peppermint bark, or any other flavor bark, is a wonderful gift that will truly be appreciated and enjoyed. It is absolutely one gift that will not need to be returned or exchanged after Christmas!


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