3 Sweet Holiday Treats

    Baked Goodies for Gift-Giving

    Pecan Clusters

    Arrange 48 pecan halves, plus a few broken ones, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When baking sheet is cool to the touch, arrange 3 pecan halves into clusters so the tops are touching. Remove extra couple of broken pecans and finely chop; reserve this for later. Cut 8 store-bought caramel candies in half and squish them down; place these over the middle of the pecans so some caramel is covering each pecan. Repeat this for each cluster; you now have 16 pecan clusters. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the caramel has melted slightly. Remove again, and top the caramel with one regular-size chocolate chip. Place back in the oven for 30 to 40 seconds. Remove baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate slightly. Sprinkle a tiny amount of chopped pecans on top of the chocolate. Allow to set, and store in an airtight container.

    Chocolate Truffles

    Place 8 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup heavy cream to a low boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips until covered. Let stand for 30 seconds. Use a small whisk or fork to stir and melt the chocolate completely. There should be no lumps and the chocolate should be glossy. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour melted chocolate and cream mixture into a small plastic bowl and cover promptly with plastic wrap, pressing down slightly to remove any extra air. Allow to sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. The next day, pour holiday sprinkles into small bowls. Use a spoon to scoop small 1-inch balls from the chocolate mixture. Use your clean hands to roll into balls. Dip the balls in the sprinkles. Place finished truffle on a clean plate and continue to make about 20. Store in an airtight container. (Truffles are meant to be imperfect, so enjoy the mess!)

    Gingy-Rice Treats

    In a large pot, melt 10 ounces marshmallows and 6 ounces unsalted butter, stirring continuously. Once melted, add 2 teaspoons molasses, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg, stirring well. Add 6 cups crispy rice cereal and stir until mixed. Coat a 9×13 glass dish with baking spray, and pour the rice cereal mixture into the pan, pressing down to create an even top. Allow to cool and set. Once set, mix ½ cup powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl and add a few drops warm water until it flows, but is still thick. Cut into 2-inch crispy rice bars, and use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the treats. Top with gingerbread sprinkles and store in an airtight container.

    Photos: Jenny Tremblay West