Holly Jollies – Christmas Candy On A Budget, In A Hurry!
This is the busiest time of year for most of us. We have all of the decorations to put up and tend to, presents to shop for and wrap, visits to Santa, to see lights, to see family…and on top of it all we really want to bake and prepare treats for those we love and appreciate!
I prefer, whenever possible, to give a homemade gift rather than a storebought, but sometimes I just don’t have the time in the kitchen that I’d like. Ironically, the time of year I’d like to cook the most is also the time of year I have the least amount of time to do it in. Holly Jollies come to the rescue! My kids love making these with me and you can easily turn out a customized candy in very little time and using very little money. Chances are, you may even have some of the ingredients on hand already.
For this tutorial, I made enough Holly Jollies to send to twelve teachers and staff members of my kid’s schools in about half an hour, start to finish! Could it get any better than that? It sure can – I only had one bowl and on spoon to wash when I was done! ~grins~
Ingredients are mostly up to you but they start with mini muffin papers and almond bark. I like to get a different color or pattern mini muffin paper for each variety, and then give an assortment to folks that they can easily tell apart. I love using almond bark in these because it is just a little over two dollars a package and each package, with add ins, will make about 36 mini muffin sized treats.
The kids really like rice krispies added in there but Ricky’s favorite is salted peanuts.
Now some folks will tell you to melt this big old hunk of chocolate in a double broiler but last I checked, not many of us had a hankering to make something difficult when it could be easy. So what we’re gonna do instead is plop this thing in a large mixing bowl and stick that puppy in the microwave.
Let’s microwave it for 90 seconds to start.
I know, I know. It doesn’t look like it’s making much headway but hang in there, honey bunches.
Now stick it back in for about 45 seconds and then stir it up a bit. The package says to microwave it for thirty seconds at a time but you know how I like to live dangerously and all that… Keep on doing this, stirring it after every thirty seconds, and in a few cycles it will be all smooth and creamy.
While that is melting, put your mini muffin papers in your mini muffin pan.
I bet y’all are ashamed of me for using this one. It’s old and stained, but I promise it’s clean. Usually, I make regular sized muffins for Southern Plate because I have what I call a “stunt pan” that I use only for posts so it doesn’t get all stained up like muffin pans tend to do. I’ve caught Ricky about to use that one a time or two and get this look of horror on my face as I seem to call out in slow motion “nooooo! That’s my stunt pan!”.
But hey, it’s Christmas, we’re all a bit overextended, so I figured y’all could just pretend this one was all pristine and such.
Looky here, almost done.
Smooth as can be and ready to go!
This is where I call in the experts. Everyone knows that candy tastes better if you let kids do it.
They’re just naturally sweeter than us
Getting my kids in the kitchen is extremely important to me, but especially so at Christmas. If I’m making something for them to give, I want them to enjoy the happiness (and learn the importance) of giving something you personally had a hand in making. In my mind, this is one of those activities that helps them to grow up with their heads in the right place.
They are also very proficient at the latest quality control techniques and therefore will insist on tasting the rice krispies before they use them!
I use several things in these Holly Jollies, but I only do one ingredient per batch.
- Peanut holly jollies, with salted peanuts stirred in (Ricky’s favorite)
- Rice Krispie Holly Jollies, with rise krispies stirred in (kid’s favorite)
- Raisin Holly Jollies, with raisins stirred in (one of my favorites)
- Cranberry Holly Jollies with dried cranberries stirred into white almond bark. (My top favorite)
The sky is truly the limit with these.
Whatever add in you choose, you’ll want to add about two cups of it as Katy Rose is doing here.
Speaking of Katy Rose…
She goes to preschool in a church and brought this coloring picture home. She took it out of her backpack and brought it to me and asked:
“Mama, is Jesus wearing a Snuggie?”
And stir it well.
Once you have your add ins mixed in there well, spoon it into your mini muffin papers.
This is going to make about three dozen.
But what I do is once I fill up my muffin tin (it only holds 24), I just spoon the rest onto waxed paper.
Allow those to harden, it won’t take long.
Here are our muffin paper ones…
and here are the ones from the waxed paper.
Now just go crazy and have fun! I use a different add in for each package of almond bark. This is peanuts.
Remember to get the salted ones, they are just wonderful in this!
I love dried cranberries stirred into white almond bark and it’s really pretty for the holidays, too!
This would also be great with nuts added in as well, or why not just do the white with cashews or other dried fruit that you like?
Seriously, knock yourself out with these.
Once you get your chocolate melted you can have these babies done from start to finish in about five minutes and it only dirties up one bowl.
This is the most fuss free holiday recipe I have!
In about half an hour, I was able to turn out enough Holly Jollies for twelve teacher’s gifts.
I packaged them in the little clear cellophane party favor bags you get in the party section at Wal Mart or the grocery store (my Dollar General has them, too). You get about twenty for a little over a dollar. I LOVE THOSE THINGS, especially this time of year. I use them for so many things. They are perfect for candy, cookies, and even miniature loaves of bread. They are also pretty enough to just tie with some curling ribbon and deliver as is.
Most importantly, it allows you to create gifts for folks and not have to spend more on the packaging than you did making the gift!
For my Holly Jollies, I found these little tin buckets at Target for $1.00 each, and picked up a few. I normally don’t spend that much on packaging, though.
I also picked up a package of plastic Christmas themed cups at Wal Mart, they were three for $1.50 but you can also get others that are 5 for $1.00 there if you like. I just put my Holly Jollies in a clear party favor bag and stuck them down in there. I included a couple of each type of Holly Jolly with each cup for variety. The kids just loved being able to take these to school! Doesn’t it make you feel good to see kids so excited to be giving things to folks?
I love those little munchkins.
Holly Jollies are so quick, easy, and economical that you can afford to give treats to all of the kind people you encounter regularly throughout the year.
We always think of teachers, but what about the school’s support staff? Does your child eat in the lunchroom – what about the lunchroom ladies and the school janitor? All of these are folks who can make your child’s day with a smile and a kind word. I’ll just bet that if you sent them some Holly Jollies, you’d make theirs, too.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
~ Peg Bracken.