I'm trying something new this year. Now that we're living out in the country, we don't see my family very often - mostly birthdays and major holidays. I thought it would be fun for my niece & nephew to get regular mail from us: packages, cards, etc.
So, back in January, I started sending mail to the kids. Vaguely remembering being a kid, I figured that what arrived isn't as important as the fact that they're getting mail, so I've made liberal use of my "swap basket"; a large metal basket into which I toss things I find on sale that look interesting or things I might have received in a swap that I couldn't use. Of course, now that these packages are planned, I'm always on the look-out for more things to add to that basket!
For Valentine's Day, I made a batch of acorn brownies and sent those, along with some themed goodies. Except that I got into the whole thing a little early and had to send it a couple of weeks ago so the brownies wouldn't get stale!
I mailed a letter last week, and Valentine cards today. I woke up this morning, knowing that I had to make the candy-dipped pretzels I'd been thinking about doing off & on since I got a canister of pretzels along with a dish (I bought on clearance). I already had all the other ingredients. And today was the day. This is so easy! You need about 3 ingredients, some paper plates & bowls, a double boiler (or facsimile (see below for mine)) and some wax paper. Doing it this way (with disposable bowls & plates) made for very fast clean-up, too (about 90 seconds).
Ingredients: mini-pretzels, candy melts (I used <1 cup of white melts to make approx. 3 dozen pretzels), sprinkles (optional)
Other "equipment": double boiler, paper bowls & plates, plastic spoon, wax paper, treat bags & tape (if not self-sealing)
Following package directions, start melting the candy. My double boiler consists of a small saucepan and a stainless bowl that sat on top - in enough to keep in steady, but out enough that it didn't get stuck). Inside the bowl, I added a paper bowl and a couple handfuls of candy melts.
While the candy is melting, sort your pretzels. Put the unbroken ones in a bowl and set the broken ones aside (these can be eaten as is, or broken up even more and added to some leftover candy and spooned onto wax paper (ever had a Pretzel Joy?)).
If sprinkles are desired, pour some into another small paper bowl. Not too much -- you won't use as much as you think -- enough to cover the bottom of the bowl about 1/4" thick.
Lay squares of wax paper on plates/cookie sheets. You won't want the pretzels to touch much once they're dipped.
Turn the heat down a bit, so you can comfortably work near the heat, then dip the pretzels into the candy, covering 1/3 - 1/2. (Note: When I took this pic, I'd already dipped several pretzels and had to add a few more melts.)
If you're not adding sprinkles, skip the next step.
Immediately dip the candy-dipped pretzel into the sprinkles, moving it a bit to grab more of their colorful goodness.
Put the pretzel on the wax paper and pop in the fridge to chill for at least 10 mintues.
When you've dipped all the pretzels, try breaking up the remaining pretzels even more (not quite crushed) and stirring them into the remaining candy (unless it's a lot and you want to refrigerate it for later use). Spoon mounds of the mixture onto wax paper and chill.
If you're serving them, store in a container with an airtight lid. They should be okay for as long as regular pretzels would be if stored that way. If you're giving, package up. I stuck several (all "facing" the same way) into a treat bag and taped it shut with some fun Japanese tape that has fruits & veggies on it.
I also took advantage of the container the pretzels came in and made a spiffy gift box, by punching a circle for the top and cutting a strip to go around it out of heavy-duty scrap-booking paper and gluing in place. I made a label using photo paper and faux-matted it with the same paper from the lid.
It's already boxed up to be mailed next week, along with some stationery supplies, in case the kids want to send mail back to their old auntie, or friends, etc. I made return labels for each, found fun patterned paper at the dollar store, and am sending a box of envelopes to share.