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Tonight, I have a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party to attend. This will be the third year I’ve been invited to this wonderful party. It is always so much fun and so festive. My friend and neighbor, Jane … and her good friend Kelli, are the hostesses – and they do a fabulous job of putting this party together. It is held at Kelli’s beautiful home, where no corner is left undecorated. She has some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations I’ve ever seen. Being in her lovely home certainly gets me in the holiday spirit and I’m really looking forward to tonight.

They have a cookie contest for the best overall cookie, plus the most festive. Let me just say that it is really hard to beat Lauren or Amber in these areas. These two women make the most fun looking and delicious cookies. They’ve definitely deserved the cookie award for their hard work and beautiful and yummy cookies. Pam also makes a beautiful cookie that has won the award for her amazing work. Pam’s cookies look like they’ve been painted by an artist. I’ve never seen a cookie so beautiful. I can’t even imagine how much hard work goes into the cookies she makes … absolutely stunning. She’s a definite cookie queen.

As most everyone knows, I am not a baker. Last year I made “spritz” cookies. This was the extent of my cookie baking. I have such wonderful memories of my mom making these Christmas cookies when I was growing up. Her and my Dad bought me my own cookie spritzer gizmo for Christmas several years ago. These cookies are so cute and they taste so good. Plus, they are on the smaller side, so you can have lots.  I’m just kidding … you need to save room for your dinner.

This year, I decided to make a sweet treat that didn’t require baking. I made chocolate bark with marshmallows, chopped almonds, dried apricots and dried cranberries. It is actually really easy to make. You start with 8 ounces of milk, dark, or bittersweet chocolate and melt it together with 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips, your preference). I used Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate bars. They come in a one pound size. I use half a bar for about 8 ounces.

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I did make three times the amount I would have because I needed enough to bring the party. For the chocolate chunks, I also used Trader Joe’s brand. They are really good.

I melted the chocolates together in a glass bowl in the microwave for a minute and a half. It will look like the chocolate isn’t melted because the chips will still be formed. Once you start stirring the chocolate with a spatula though, it will continue to melt together.  I spread the chocolate out on a sheet of parchment paper that I placed on a large cookie sheet. I spread it out to about 9×13. While the chocolate was warm, I dropped my toppings on. For my bark, I chose mini marshmallows, almonds that I chopped, dried apricots that I chopped and dried cranberries.

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Once the toppings were on, I immediately placed my pans (remember, I did this three times) of bark into the refrigerator to set. I left them in overnight.

I cut them this afternoon and placed them on the platter I was carrying them to the party on and immediately put the platter back into the refrigerator until I’m ready to head out.

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I decided to make Kylie a little mug of hot cocoa last night and add some mini marshmallows. She had been working on homework for what seemed like hours last night and thought I would surprise her with a little treat. She was more than thankful. I loved seeing her eyes light up when I presented her with a nice steaming mug of hot cocoa. Tonight when her and Dennis get home, there is a little plate of chocolate bark for them in the refrigerator. I hope they like their surprise treat.

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I’m sure I will bake a little this Christmas … even if it is just the spritz cookies. I need to relive the fun memory of watching my mom make these. Plus, Kylie likes to help make these ones. Dennis loves to eat them, so it’s a win-win.

Ingredients (for one 9×13 size piece of bark)

  • 8 ounces dark or milk chocolate
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries

Directions

Melt chocolates together in the microwave in a glass bowl for one and a half minutes. If you need a bit longer, continue melting in 15 second increments.

Pour chocolate out on parchment paper that has been placed on a cookie sheet. While chocolate is freshly poured and warm, add the toppings. Immediately place in the refrigerator for the bark to set. I let mine sit in the refrigerator overnight, but several hours should be just fine. Cut into pieces when it is hardened and enjoy!

Until next time, Kris