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Make-Ahead Gifts for the Holidays: Here's One Idea!

Now's the time to make homemade goodies to give as gifts this season. This recipe for chocolate, peanut and cranberry bark is easy and doesn't require a candy thermometer!

Yummy chocolate, peanut and cranberry bark. Photo by Fay Abrahamsson
Yummy chocolate, peanut and cranberry bark. Photo by Fay Abrahamsson

Just about everyone on your holiday gift list would appreciate a home-made item such as your own jams and jellies, candy, fudge, cookies and this recipe for chocolate and peanut bark - a very addictive combination of salty and sweet.

This makes a great gift to make now for neighbors, friends, co-workers and others.

Even though you are making candy, this recipe doesn't require the fuss of a candy thermometer. Anyone who has tried candy-making and failed knows that a simple recipe is certainly welcome at the holidays.

What's your best make-ahead homemade gift? Share it with all of us in the 'comments' section in this article.

Chocolate, Peanut & Cranberry Bark

2 T brown sugar

3 T corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups salted peanuts (keep whole)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 tsp. dried espresso granules or instant espresso (optional, but it brings out the chocolate flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Add the peanuts and toss well, coating them completely.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch this carefully - you want the mixture to be a deep golden brown, but not burned.

Remove from oven and let cool. You can turn the oven off.

Place semisweet chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir. This should melt them completely.  If not, microwave in additional 10-second intervals until melted, stirring after each heating. (If you don't have a microwave, place chips in double-boiler and heat slowly on low heat to melt.)

Prepare your cooled, rimmed baking sheet with a new piece of waxed paper or parchment paper.

Add to the bowl with the melted chocolate: the peanut mixture, cranberries and espresso granules. Stir well, coating every piece in chocolate.

Spread mixture evenly on the wax-paper lined pan, in one layer. Refrigerate until set.

When ready, break bark apart in uneven pieces, or cut with a large knife.

You can place pieces in individual gift bags or containers, or on a holiday plate, cover, add some ribbon and you are done!

What's your idea? Add it to the comments. 

Recipe adapted from one found in Good Housekeeping magazine.

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