Here's a fun, easy gift from the kitchen. I've made these for teacher gifts and used them in various gift containers. They are nice because they can add some height if you are doing an assortment of goodies in a basket or other container.
This is really a recipe that can be fun and creative -- not to mention tasty, if you like the sweet/salty combination the way I do.
You can melt packaged caramels or make homemade caramel. You can press all kinds of things into the caramel -- mini M&Ms (shown here), various chopped nuts, or various chopped candy bars. Then drizzle it with whatever chocolates, chocolate chips or melting wafers you have on hand. (Some chips, like white chips, don't seem to melt very well, so you may want to experiment.) In this case I had dark chocolate and red candy melting wafers (or whatever you call those things). The only thing I'd say is that dark chocolate can tend to overwhelm everything else, so I'd suggest sticking with semisweet or milk chocolate.
I am sending this to My Kitchen Treasures (a blogger from Belgium) for her ongoing compilation of homemade Christmas gifts from the kitchen. If you're looking for some gift ideas from the kitchen, her roundup can be found here. She will keep adding entries until December 20, so check back from time to time!
Triple Dipped M&M Pretzels
14 oz bag of caramels
2 Tbsp milk
10 oz bag pretzel rods
1 package mini M&Ms
10 oz semisweet chocolate chips or almond bark
10 oz white almond bark or colored candy melting wafers
2 Tablespoons shortening
Unwrap caramels and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add milk. Microwave on high for about three minutes or until melted, stirring after each minute.
Dip each pretzel into caramel mixture, covering about two-thirds of the pretzel. Let caramel drip off slightly. Spoon or roll some of the M&Ms onto the caramel on the pretzel, pressing lightly with back of a spoon. Let stand on nonstick foil or foil coated with cooking spray (NOT waxed paper -- it will stick!)
Move the pretzels to a wire cooling rack, arranging them so that there's a little space between each of them. Microwave the chocolate chips or bark, along with 1 Tablespoon of shortening, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the pretzels. Refrigerate until firm. Turn the pretzels so that a different side is up. Microwave the white or colored bark or wafers with 1 Tablespoon of the shortening, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Drizzle over the pretzels. Refrigerate until firm. Keep melting and drizzling until the pretzels are to your liking. Package in decorative gift bags.