Peppermint Crunch Christmas Trees

Peppermint Crunch Christmas Trees

Peppermint Crunch Christmas TreesOk, so I know it’s a little early to be posting Christmas recipes, but humor me here. One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to put treat baskets together for my family and friends. Usually the baskets are stuffed with decorated sugar cookies, candied nuts and my semi-famous Espresso Snaps. But the one thing I don’t usually include is homemade candy.

Candy making has never really been my thing because I’m not a crafty type. And candy sometimes requires a bit of craft ability. Just to give you some insight, when I was in middle school I took home economics. While I got an A in cooking, I failed sewing and crafting. Part of that might be related to the time I sewed my finger to the project I was making. I don’t play well with needles.

And while I can do crazy wonderful things with a pork loin, working with sugar usually leaves me frustrated and my kitchen looking like a bomb went off.

So when my daughter asked if we could include a cutesy Christmas candy in our baskets this year, I was not enthused with the idea. That said, I thought it might be fun if I could let the girls help with making the treats this year and if the candy ends up looking like Rorshach Test blobs, I can blame them. Of course I jest.

Around the same time my daughter brought this up I saw a post about Haystacks which I loved as a child. They were a very popular confection in the Midwest when I was growing up and I have fond memories of my girlfriend’s mother making them for us. A super simplistic candy that anyone can make, including me.

Essentially Haystacks are melted butterscotch morsels, chow mein noodles and nuts all mixed together and placed in blobs on parchment paper to solidify into a delicious pile of crunch and sweet. Easy enough, right?

So I took that basic principle and holidayed it up a bit by shaping the mounds into little trees. I also used white chocolate morsels mixed together with crushed candy canes to give it some holiday crunch and finished it with a dusting of crushed candy cane snow.

Rather festive and crafty if I do say so myself.

But my daughter wasn’t as impressed, so we took it one step further…

Peppermint Crunch Christmas TreesKeeping with the peppermint flavor, we placed the still warm trees on piles of chopped Andes candies which I had hoped would end up looking like tree trunks. In reality it looks like there are little brown gift packages under the boughs. Close enough.

And no holiday candy is complete without M&Ms in my daughter’s eyes, so we adorned our trees with mini M&Ms. And with that she said our candy craft was gift giving approved.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s fast and easy to make. A super way to get the kids involved in the kitchen. There’s also minimal cleanup which is usually an issue with candy making. And they hold up really well which works out splendidly for those of us who ship packages to loved ones far away.

So if you are easily intimidated with candy making, this is the recipe for you. And a super fun addition to your holiday gift baskets!

Peppermint Crunch Christmas Trees
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 8-10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Peppermint Crunch Christmas Trees are easy to make and fun to eat! Full of crunch from the chow mein noodles and crushed candy canes, they will be a surefire hit in your gift baskets or on your holiday table!
Ingredients
  • 24oz white chocolate morsels
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 5 oz chow mein noodles
  • ¾ cup candy canes, crushed (reserve 4 Tbsp for dusting)
  • ½ cup Andes candies, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup min-M&Ms (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If using Andes candies, place twelve small circles of the chopped candies onto the parchment paper. (about a ½ Tbsp each)
  2. Place chow mein noodles and crushed candy canes into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and vegetable shortening in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Pour over noodles and crushed candy canes. Mix well to combine.
  4. Place about 2 Tbsp of the warm mixture on top of each Andes pile, using your fingers to coax into tree shape. After forming each tree, dust some more crushed candy cane on top.
  5. Once all of the trees are formed, go back and use a bit of the leftover melted white chocolate morsels to adhere the M&Ms to the trees.
  6. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

 

A Long Island Wine Adventure

Long Island Wine TourWhen I think about vineyards, there are places that immediately jump to mind. California, France, Italy and Spain certainly. Long Island, New York? That would’ve never crossed my mind until a recent trip exposed me to the many fine wineries that inhabit the North Fork region of Long Island.

My education started with a trip on the Cross Island Ferry which I boarded in New London, Connecticut. The ride was entirely pleasant with comfortable seating and a well stocked cafe. As I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the lighthouses we passed, I kicked myself for not having visited sooner.

After a lovely scenic cruise, we were greeted by the friendly folks from Vintage Tours who led our group to our rather comfortable tour bus in order to begin our wine tasting adventure.

Located on the east end of Long Island, North Fork is home to dozens of wineries situated on picturesque seascapes and quaint villages. The moderate maritime climate and sandy loam soil are factors in the region’s ability to produce award winning wine.

Long Island Wine TourTaking a tour of the area with a guide was a good way to go for several reasons. First, having a designated driver is just smart. It’s hard to enjoy glasses of wine when you’re constantly worried about driving a vehicle. It’s also preferable to learn about an area from a local. Locals always know the best places to visit and do a fine job on filling you in on the history of the area.  Lastly, getting lost is no fun and something I’m famous for. Having a guide who seamlessly gets you from point A to point B is a wonderful thing.

Kontokosta WineryOur first winery stop was Kontokosta Winery. An absolutely breathtaking vineyard located cliffside, Kontokosta Winery was dazzling. From my first step into their exquisite tasting room, I was smitten. We sampled a variety of award wining wines and took in the sweeping views of the vineyard. A lovely way to start our day.

Kontokosta Winery

Harbes VineyardOur next stop was Harbes Farm. Now this vineyard was unique. Part farm and part vineyard, Harbes Farm is a fantastic place to visit with children. Parents will appreciate sampling fine wines while the children will delight in meeting the many different animals that live there. Cows, horses, bunnies and the biggest pigs you’ve ever seen are just some of the examples of animals you will see at Harbes Farm.

Harbes Farm

Harbes Farm Cider DonutsDo be sure to stop by the farm stand and load up on fresh picked produce. The farm stand is huge and rivals many specialty grocery stores, not only in quality but also in size. I was so very impressed with the vast selection of fruits and veggies.

Besides produce, you can also find fresh pressed apple cider, jams and jellies, fresh baked pies and hot ready to eat foods like butter dunked roasted corn and fresh out of the fryer cider donuts. If you don’t pick up a bag of hot cider donuts, you are totally missing out. Trust me on this one.

Jamesport Vineyards

Jamesport VineyardsOur last vineyard tasting was Jamesport Vineyards. This award winning winery’s tasting room is located in a 150 year old barn. The rustic but still comfortable tasting room was the perfect setting for our tasting. As we sampled the wines, we learned about the process of wine making from planting to bottling. If you’d like an education on the wine making process, this is a fine place to start.

NOFO LunchboxOur lunch consisted of boxed lunches from NOFO Lunchbox. And what a lunch it was. I chose a marinated hanger steak sandwich with fried onions and chimmichurri sauce which was served with a fresh pasta salad and a rich chocolate chip cookie. I can assure you that I will be stopping back in to visit NOFO Lunchbox in the very near future. Dreamy.

Catapano Dairy FarmThe North Fork region is foodie heaven. Every twist and turn in the road brings you to another culinary gem. We happened upon the Catapano Dairy Farm where we had the chance to sample some of the best goat cheese I’ve ever had. This small family run farm takes great pride in producing quality cheese and delights in educating the public on the process. Be sure to visit the milking room where you can see not only the goats being milked, but also the cheese making process.  And before you leave, visit their quaint shop where you can purchase all kinds of goats milk products including luxurious skin care and beauty items alongside the many varieties of cheese.

The Candy ManNo foodie day would be complete without a bite of chocolate. And we found that at The Candyman. For over 75 years this small shop has been producing handmade chocolates and confections. Operated by the Heins family for four generations, much of their equipment and techniques have not changed over the years. This consistency and heritage has led to a delicious reputation for fine chocolates and treats. Do be sure to sample their toffee crunch. It was a huge hit with my children and vanished within seconds of my arrival home.

Living only two hours away from the ferry to Long Island, I wish I had discovered the ease of getting there sooner. And now that I know about the vibrant wine culture on the island, I will be back soon to visit other wineries that I didn’t get a chance to visit this time around. I will also be budgeting some time for antiquing because we passed many an antique shop that I would’ve loved to visit.

But alas, there are only so many hours in a day. And this day had drawn to a close. As we boarded the ferry for our return trip, I carried my bag full of wine bottles and fine foods onboard and enjoyed a leisurely cruise back to my car. A delightful day that I plan to repeat soon!

For more information on visiting the area you can visit Long Island Weekends for events and accommodations.

This is not a sponsored post. However I did receive a complimentary tour to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

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