Holiday Sweets for Fellow Students
December 2, 2011 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Two part question: 1) What attractive, low-fuss, preferably holiday-themed sweet can I make in bulk this weekend, and 2) what would be a creative and attractive packing solution for these said sweets?

I just looked at my calendar, and I realized that my last day of classes is next week on Wednesday! With exam season right around the corner, next week is going to be my last chance to see a lot of people before they squirrel into their hidden study spots and vanish from the scene; and especially since everyone has different exam dates and will be heading home at different times, next week is going to be my last easy opportunity to show my appreciation for my friends, classmates and colleagues.

That being said: I need to be able to churn out something sweet and attractive in bulk for about 15-20 people tomorrow. Difficulty is no issue, as I'm an accomplished chef and confectionist, but I would prefer something that I can make in a relatively short period of time in my tiny kitchen and something that's super easy to clean up (I need to study for my exams too!) Preferably, it will also be holiday themed too: I'm thinking candy-cane flavored, but anything along those lines is fine. It also needs to be durable enough for me to haul from class to class without breaking/melting/going bad, as I will be distributing them throughout the day(s) and won't have a car.

And once they're all good and done and cooling, I need creative ideas on how to package them. Preferably something cheap but pretty that I can pick up from the dollar store or something while I'm doing the grocery shopping for whatever I'm making above. I will be packaging them in small quantities (the gifts are intended to be small tokens of appreciation rather than full-blown gifts).

Thanks for the help!
posted by Conspire to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Fudge is quick and easy, if you have time for it to set. It shouldn't melt unless you leave it in a very warm place.

I made candied orange slices for people last year. Maybe not so great for a small space, though, since you have to leave them out to dry for a day or more.

Coconut ice is quick, and can be holiday coloured (pink and white is kind of candy-caney), but it's not as delicious as fudge.

Whatever you choose, I like to package them by cutting a square of clear cellophane, putting a few squares of whatever treat in the centre, gathering the edges together and tying with a pretty red or green ribbon.
posted by lollusc at 6:12 PM on December 2, 2011

Almond toffee is a crowd pleaser around here very year. It breaks up very nicely in to little chunks, and the ingredient list is pretty short.
posted by jquinby at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make a candy cane fudge that's seasonal and easy. Melt a bag of chocolate chips with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of vanilla. Add a bunch of smashed up candy canes. Pour into a baking pan lined with wax paper and cool.
posted by advicepig at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2011

2 ingredient Fudge. It's quick, easy, and you do it all in the microwave. Pour the fudge into a foil or wax paper lined pan for easy pan removal and cleanup. You can use any flavor of baking chips and any flavor of frosting. The Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy brand seems to work best with this, I don't know why. It's also very good with mix ins. I made Candy Cane Fudge by using the vanilla baking chips with the white frosting. I stirred peppermint extract into the frosting and crushed candy canes into the fudge before it set. It was very good. I've also made chocolate peanut butter fudge (chocolate frosting, peanut butter chips) and plain chocolate with walnuts.

For packaging just wrap each portion in wax paper and tie with a holiday colored ribbon or the dollar store usually has tons of small holiday tins and boxes this time of year.
posted by katyggls at 6:25 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

We make this every year. If you have or can borrow a candy thermometer, it's easy. I package it in white Chinese food containers tied with red and green ribbons.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:32 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Actually, I just realised that all of my Christmas recipes are ones I have grabbed off similar, older Ask threads. Yes, every year I basically make Metafilter for Christmas. The list may be of use to you. If you're super short on time, literally nothing is easier than the hot cocoa mix.)
posted by DarlingBri at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I make this every year for friends, family and coworkers and I warn you - it is like crack. But so delicious, super easy and very festive.

White Chocolate Party Mix

1 package 10 oz. mini pretzels
5 cups corn chex
1 lb. M&M - use red/green, orange/brown, or whatever is the right color for the holiday
5 cups cheerios
2 cups salted peanuts
2 12 oz packages vanilla chips
3 Tbsp veg. oil

Put everything together in bowl but vanilla chips and oil. Mix dry ingredients. Heat chips and oil in bowl in microwave Med Hi 2 minutes, stirring once. Then heat on Hi for 10 sec - stir till smooth. Repeat last step if necessary. Immediately pour melted mixture on top of dry mix, stirring well from bottom. Spread on wax paper, then break apart after it cools. Store in airtight container.

I just get clear plastic treat baggies, fill it with 1-2 cup of mix, tie it with a festive ribbon and voila. Easy holiday sweets.
posted by angsolom at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

This recipe for Holiday Peppermint Bark is really easy and it ends up looking really nice & fancy.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2011

Perhaps not as Holiday-y as you'd like, but last year we packaged up muffins, wrapped them in cellophane and attached a note that read, "You're getting muffin for Christmas." bahahahaha! They were well received - especially so since my kids came up with a variation of the song, "You're Getting Nothing For Christmas" and sang that to everyone we presented the muffins to.

And, muffins are quick and easy. Perhaps a gingerbread or pumpkin spice muffin?
posted by Sassyfras at 7:21 PM on December 2, 2011

I love making these dipped pretzel rods. . Packaging ideas included in this link, and there are tons of others in the google.
posted by raisingsand at 7:28 PM on December 2, 2011

Pecan pralines are cheap, dead simple, and can very easily be produced en masse. They also scream Christmas for this guy.
posted by Gilbert at 8:07 PM on December 2, 2011

Holiday rice krispie treats? Yum. Kellogg site has a bunch of cute recipes: wreaths, reindeer, presents, etc...
posted by East Siberian patchbelly wrangler at 9:12 PM on December 2, 2011

These pumpkin pie fudge brownie bars look awesome. Pumpkin and chocolate are unexpectedly wonderful together.
posted by elizeh at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2011

Lots of goodies suggested above. For packaging you might try either coloured cellophane or tissue paper (purchased at a dollar store) layered with whatever goodie into dollar store tins. If they don't have decent tins they may have paper or cardstock boxes (like Chinese food boxes or other shapes). If those aren't there you could try just gift bags, but they'd be my last choice.
posted by deborah at 10:35 PM on December 2, 2011

Very little fuss and muss would have to be rum balls, hands down.

White Christmas is also pretty damned quick and easy.

Buying all the ingredients for chocolate panforte can be a bit of a pain, but the dish itself is fast and simple, imho.
posted by smoke at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2011

Oh, also, candied almonds are almost stupidly simple and irresistible.
posted by smoke at 11:48 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cracker candy

Layer some saltines (the salted kind - don't bother with the no salt version) on a foil covered cookie sheet*. Make or buy caramel sauce or toffee sauce and warm it over a double boiler. Drizzle over the crackers as lightly or deeply as you like. Put in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes**. Take it out and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips - usually half a bag or more per liner. Bake for another 5 or so minutes. Remove from oven and spread the now melted chips over the crackers & caramel. Let cool, cover with foil and refrigerate for a couple of hours.*** Break it apart for single servings.

If you're doing a big batch, I usually mix it up with a variety of chips (milk, dark, white, butterscotch) and add chopped pecans or walnuts. I usually do one batch with something new every year. It's a very forgiving recipe.

*to be honest, I always make a mess of the cookie sheets and the foil sometimes rips. I use disposable aluminum oven liners (they're in the baking aisle). You''ll still need the cookie sheet or baking sheet for rigidity but you can do multiple batches a lot easier with the liners.

**I'm guessing on the time & temp here. I know my oven & I know what it's supposed to look like in the various stages. A little browning on the edges is fine in the final oven stage.

*** This time of year, I usually tightly crimp on the foil around the liners and set the stack outside overnight on my balcony. I usually get 8-12 liners (2 boxes of crackers!) out of a batch and I don't have that kind of refrigerator room.
posted by jaimystery at 3:51 AM on December 3, 2011

I'm making peppermint meringue cookies today, using candy canes.

You could put them in cellophane bags and tie with holiday ribbon, or little holiday themed cardboard boxes from a craft or dollar store. Not very heavy to haul around, lowfat and tasty.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:20 AM on December 3, 2011

No-bake Fudgy Snow Balls. Healthy too!
posted by JacksonandFinch at 5:57 AM on December 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! It was really hard to decide with all of these great suggestions, but I'm going with a combination of rum balls and snow-ball cookies! I think the contrast will look great.

Thanks again!
posted by Conspire at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

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