Sweet treats for the holidays. There are always too many choices and not enough time. I have a few tried and true favorites, but each year, I add in something new, just for fun.
This year is no exception. I made my special Christmas mice – a tradition that started years ago, when my boys were little. When they “helped,” we had a chocolate mess all over the kitchen, but by the time we were through, there was an army of mice adorning the kitchen counters. These little critters are super cute, and although they’re easy to make, they do take a little time since you have to chill the dough. I even added a little datil pepper kick to some of them, just because I could. The premise for these came from the Oreo Cookie Balls you may already be familiar with. Using Oreo cookies and cream cheese as the base, you can actually form these into just about any shape you wish. For a super simple version, just roll them into balls and dip into the chocolate coating. You can add sprinkles or chopped nuts to the top of the balls if you like.
For a fun twist, I made one batch with Peanut Butter Oreos and some with Mint Oreo Cookies. They were absolutely delicious, and disappeared quickly.
My mother’s dog-eared recipe for Southern Pecan Crescents also got an update this year. Mamma always rolled them into beautiful little crescent moon shapes. To make things simple, and to save a little time, I rolled them into balls instead, more along the lines of a Mexican Wedding Cookie. The crescents tend to break apart more easily if you aren’t careful when rolling them in the powdered sugar. I needed a lot of them for a party, and I was running short on time, hence the balls. To change things up even further, I used pistachios and dried cranberries instead of pecans. When using pecans, I always toast them for a few minutes. I used the pistachio nuts in this recipe straight from the bag, without toasting. They were perfect little melt-in-your-mouth snowballs.
There are hundreds of “melting snowman” ideas out there on the web. Everything from cookies to cupcakes. I tried something really simple using white “chocolate” bark. Not real chocolate, I know, but by adding some candy eyes, half a small Reese’s peanut butter cup for a hat, and an orange jimmy for his nose, Frosty just melts away before your eyes. I would have said they were almost too cute to eat, but they disappeared just like Frosty melted when the sun came out. By spooning the melted vanilla bark into a circle, you have the perfect base for Frosty’s melting face.
Place half of the Oreo cookies in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Add the rest of the package of Oreos and process until coarse crumbs.
Cut cream cheese into several pieces and place into food processor with the Oreo crumbs.
If desired, add Nuthin’ But Datil Datil Pepper Powder to food processor. (Obviously this is not for everyone, but that little extra kick from the datil pepper, along with the chocolate, is something special.)
Pulse until combined and mixture forms a ball.
Remove the Oreo mixture from the food processor and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour to harden and firm up the dough.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll into desired shapes using about 2 tablespoons of dough. To make the mouse shapes, form the mixture into a log, slightly rounding and fattening one end, while tapering the other end almost to a point for the nose.
Place shapes on parchment paper of foil lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
When ready to dip in coating, place several blocks of almond bark in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high speed for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Continue to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring each time until completely melted. (Be careful not to over heat. If this happens, and it starts to harden up, add a small amount of vegetable shortening and stir until creamy and thin enough to dip.)
Remove dough from freezer and dip into melted almond bark. Using a fork or dipping fork, remove the mouse and gently shake off the excess almond bark back into the bowl. Place on parchment paper or foil using a toothpick or the tip of a knife to push it off the fork.
Immediately place 1 piece of Twizzler’s licorice at back end for tail, 2 chocolate chips on their sides for ears and add the candy eyes. If chocolate coating hardens before you can place everything, dip a toothpick in the candy coating and use to add the ears or eyes if necessary,
Allow to harden completely before moving to a closed container. Store in the refrigerator.