Making the best holiday sweets you can in the Mt. A dorms

As we approach the holiday season, I’m sure that many of us are craving our favourite holiday treats. Unfortunately, for dorm residents like myself, it can be hard to create those foods with limited supplies and space. My absolute favourite holiday cookies are the homemade peanut butter cups that my mom makes for me every year, and despite complaining about how hard they are to make, she always has some ready by the time I get home. It’s an act of love sweeter than chocolate, one that I have always treasured. Unfortunately, it is a recipe that takes time, requires a lot of equipment (double boilers, muffin trays, the list goes on), and makes a huge mess. It’s not something I can manage in the dorms. To that end, I have compiled a list of holiday recipes that are easier to make. Exact measurements are included in some recipes, but if you do not have the equipment for that, just estimating should be alright. Measurements can be reduced or increased proportionally to make different amounts.

Newfoundland Smartie Cookies: I found this particular version of the recipe on the Lord Byron’s Kitchen website. Wonderfully simple to make, these cookies have a lovely chewy texture that is balanced by the crunch of the candy-coated chocolate.

Ingredients: 4 cups of mini marshmallows (though large ones should work); 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14oz); ½ cup of butter; 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs, which you can make by sealing the crackers into a ziploc bag and hitting them with the nearest blunt object (perhaps the textbook of a particularly frustrating class); 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder; 1 ½ cups of unsweetened coconut; candy coated chocolate (i.e., smarties).

Instructions: Mix the marshmallows, milk, butter, and vanilla together and place them in the microwave for one minute. Stir, then put the mixture in the microwave for another minute. Repeat the process until the mixture is melted together. Stir in the cocoa powder, graham cracker crumbs and coconut. Refrigerate the mixture for 3-4 hours. Once refrigerated, roll the mixture into balls, then in the remaining coconut, and press a candy coated chocolate into each one. Refrigerate for another 2 hours, then enjoy!

Peanut Butter Snowballs: Peanut butter is one of the best foods to have in your dorm room. It is versatile, easy to store, and tasty. This recipe from the Taste of Home website is an excellent example.

Ingredients: 1 cup of icing sugar; ½ cup of peanut butter; 3 tablespoons of softened butter; 1 pound of candy coating (white chocolate would work just as well). It doesn’t matter if you use chips or chop it up yourself.

Instructions: Combine the sugar, peanut butter, and butter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Melt the candy or chocolate in the microwave (in small intervals and stirring in between to ensure it doesn’t burn). Roll the peanut butter mixture into balls (something my mother taught me is to keep your hands wet to prevent it from sticking). Then, coat the balls in the melted candy or chocolate, being careful not to burn yourself. At this point, you can add any sort of toppings you would like (chopped peanuts, crushed candy canes, etc.) or proceed to put your dessert in the fridge to harden.

Hot Chocolate (various flavours): This basic recipe for hot chocolate is something that I have been using for years. There is simply nothing better on a cold winter’s day than a warm cup of hot chocolate. The process for making it is simple, but rewarding.

Ingredients: You only really need milk and chocolate, but if you want to make fun flavours you can use flavoured coffee creamer (just add whatever amount feels right to your milk) or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. This time of year, I suggest using peppermint flavouring and topping with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.

Instructions: Fill a microwave safe mug with milk and add whatever flavourings you want. Microwave it for one minute, stir, then repeat until the milk is hot enough to melt your chocolate. Add your chocolate and stir thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to heat up the mug again if it isn’t mixing. As for the chocolate itself, you can effectively use whatever kind you want, from milk chocolate chips to whatever bars you have left from halloween (so long as you chop them up finely). The smaller the pieces, the better they melt.

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