Wednesday, December 14, 2016


My granddaughter Belle and I have been baking at Christmastime since she was five and she is now nine.  She is so good and serious in the kitchen - we have fun.  This year we decided to change it up a little.  We decided to "surprise" her daddy at his office with trays of goodies. This was quite the undertaking and so we worked for a few hours on Saturday and finished up on Sunday and made our delivery on this last Monday.
First the list....we ended up eliminating the pretzel toffee but we made everything else! When I created the list I had her in mind and her abilities and some things I thought she was ready to learn.  You will see Kraft whipped peanut butter in the photo - I bought this in Canada recently - I do not find it here.  A friend told me that Jiff used to make it but no more.  Birds custard powder is an English product but is available here, you will find it at World Market and other stores that sell imported items.
 Here is my helper, ready to bake and make candy!
We started out with what has to be the easiest candy in the world to make - peanut clusters in the crock pot. All you do is break up the large bars and just dump all the chocolate in your crock pot and in about one hour it is melted and you add the Spanish peanuts and stir and you are ready to make your candy.  This is a perfect recipe if you need a lot of home made gifts of candy because this makes a ton of candy.
We made three different kinds - this one with walnut dust (just put walnuts into a small Cuisinart or other type machine and whirl away - voila, dust).
With crushed peppermint.....
Finally, the plain ones.  These are so simple and so good.
Moving on to salted caramels - I modified the recipe a little here as the recipe calls for making them in the microwave but my microwave is high and I was worried about the hot caramel and the height of the microwave so we cooked them in my copper clad pot I cook candy in - she helped and learned about a candy thermometer and to be very careful.
After a couple of trys she became quite good at twisting the candy wrappers - great little helper.
This was good, we were able to sit and rest a bit making the caramels.
Scottish shortbread a favorite of mine.  This recipe was given to me by someone on a Facebook group that I belong to - thank you Bry!
After making the dough - cut in half. Since this is a very soft dough I find it much easier to roll it out on the Silpat mat - if you do not have Silpat then roll it out on parchment paper in the cookie sheet, that way you do not have to move the cookies.
I think this is called a pastry roller but it is just the same as the brayer I have in my craft room! Each half will make one dozen cookies.
I use a cookie stamp for the shortbread - there are many different kinds of stamps, I like this snowflake for winter. I just sent for a thistle stamp to use the rest of the time.
I find the best way to get your stamp centered is to stamp the cookies and then come back with your cutter and cut them.
We recently visited Victoria, BC and of course had a Nanaimo bar so I decided we would try this wonderful bar.  I need to add a note about something I keep in my pantry that has saved me many a time, a trip to the store. The whipped cream is shelf stable and is not kept in the fridge until opened.  This particular one is from Trader Joe's but other brands can be found.
It is a three layer cookie - here is layer #1, chocolate, coconut, nuts, just yum!
 The second layer is a creamy, custard layer.
Semi-sweet chocolate melted for the top.
A big tray of fudge....We also made two different kinds of cookie sandwiches.  One was filled with a mixture of marshmallow Fluff and the whipped peanut butter and the other was filled with marshmallow fluff and cookie butter. Here is a link to the recipe for the cookies: Link
The fruits of our labor ready for putting onto to trays, covering with plastic wrap.
Ready for delivery - five trays for each of the two offices.
We finished on Sunday and we met up at Daddy's office after school on Monday.  We told Daddy that we would do this each year but this year was the only surprise year.
Belle's other grandma works in the other office so we made our delivery #2 to Grandma.

Scottish Shortbread (Bry Crump)

3 cups of flour
1 cup powdered sugar
3 sticks of butter, softened

In your mixer cream together the sugar and the butter until nice and fluffy. Then gradually add the flour (I tell my granddaughter, very slowly unless you want a flour storm in your face).

Roll out onto you pan (you do not have to do this but it is so much easier if you do this) and either cut into little blocks or use a cookie stamp and then use a cookie cutter around the stamp.  If you do not use a stamp then you will need to pierce the cookies so they won't puff up - do not go all the way through the cookie, just poke them.

Bake at 325° for about 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookie - keep an eye on them.

It is amazing just how good only three ingredients can be!

Peanut Clusters

2 16oz cans of Spanish peanuts or 3 12oz cans (sometimes called cocktail peanuts, they still  have the skin on them)
2 pounds chocolate almond bark
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz milk chocolate (it can just be from a bar)

Set your crock pot on high - then all you do is break up the chocolate and dump it all into the crock pot.  Set your time for one hour - it should all be melted by then - just stir it make sure it is all incorporated and pour in all the peanuts.

Drop by heaping spoonful  onto wax or parchment paper and let it cool - takes about two hours.

If you are going to put anything on top, do that while it is still warm.  We used walnut dust and crushed peppermint but you can use sprinkles, etc. whatever your little heart desires.

This recipe may be cut in  half because this makes a ton of candy.  Be careful to not make the clusters too big - making candy not cookies!

Nanaimo Bars

Yields: 40-64 bars - Recipe from the City of Nanaimo

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cups finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken (Roughly 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 Tsp. cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Cut into 1 inch squares (trust us, their quite rich) and serve slightly chilled and with a tall glass of milk!


These may be made in the microwave or cooked with a candy thermometer. 

This probably the second easiest candy to make - as I mentioned I was trying to make things that were fun to make with my girl.


1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Flaky sea salt for the topping

For the stove top:
Mix all the ingredients in a pot on the stove and cook to the soft stage on your thermometer, then pour into a buttered dish and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.  Let cool completely and cut into squares, wrap with either wax paper or candy papers.

For the Microwave:

Mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl - I place my plastic microwave splatter saver on the top, if you do not have one make sure you use a large bowl.  Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, stirring every 90 seconds - be careful this is hot.  Pour into a buttered dish and sprinkle the flaky sea salt on top.  Allow to cool completely and cut into squares, wrap with  either wax paper or candy papers.


Cookie Stamp, Link
Candy wrappers, Link
Pastry roller, Link
Birds custard powder, World Market, other import sellers

Thank  you for stopping by.



  2. Why? Because I like you!!! Come to my house Anonymous & I will fix you treats!!!