I was a baking maniac this weekend.
This year, I decided to put together some simple gift baskets with homemade goodies for my co-workers. I already had ideas for most of the goodies. Then, I stumbled upon this recipe for homemade marshmallows. How fun would that be along with some packets of hot cocoa mix?! It sounded easy enough, and I just had to invest about $4 in a candy thermometer from Walmart.
Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that this was not one of my brighter ideas. The mixture was so thick that I nearly burned out the motor of my electric hand mixer and got marshmallow goo sucked up in the holes where the mixer sticks go. (Admittedly, that was my fault because the recipe called for a stand mixer, which I don’t own.) The result was a big, white, sticky blob that--while it did have the texture of a marshmallow--was impossible to cut into chunks or shapes. And even when I did get a chunk off, I had to roll it in so much corn starch and powdered sugar that it didn’t even taste good. Needless to say, clean-up was not fun either. Big fat FAIL.
This experience was a humbling reminder that I am no Martha Stewart. Well, at least I can bake a mean loaf of bread. I made both banana (my mom’s tried-and-true recipe) and pumpkin, baked them in some mini loaf pans (Chicago Metallic brand from BB&B) that had been lightly greased and dusted with cinnamon/sugar, and they came out beautifully!
For chocolate-covered pretzels, I melted a 2.5 lb Ghirardelli Candy Making and Dipping Bar that I found at Sam’s Club for $6.98. It dries with a shiny, glossy, hard coat and tastes better than almond bark (in my opinion). I only dipped the pretzels halfway to stretch the chocolate longer, and it made a ton. I put these in little treat bags and tied with a ribbon.
Since I had already bought some hot cocoa to go with my failed homemade marshmallows, I still stuck a packet in each gift basket, sans marshmallows.
The last thing in each gift basket was a cinnamon stick candle, a project from a couple of weekends ago. All of this was nestled in green glittery wire baskets from Hobby Lobby (where else?). Then I tucked in one of our Christmas cards that were printed at Sam’s Club. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my gift baskets turned out and I had fun putting everything together. Gift baskets like these are nice because they still take some thought and effort, but not a lot of money.
Hope everyone's ready for Christmas! I'll finally be sharing all my decorations later this week... and hopefully soon after that I'll be able to show off our newly painted bathroom!