Ok, 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…
Keeping 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!
- 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)
- 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)
- Place chow mein noodles and crushed candy canes into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate and vegetable shortening in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Pour over noodles and crushed candy canes. Mix well to combine.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow to cool. Store in airtight container.