Money seems to get tighter every year, but everyone still wants to give a nice Christmas gift. Making gifts at home can save a lot of money, and Christmas candy is a nice change from the same old cookies that most people seem to make. A few ingredients and an afternoon, and you can have gifts for quite a few people on your list.
Line cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper and spray with vegetable oil spray. Set aside. Mix together 2/3 cup light corn syrup, 3/4 cup water and 2 cups sugar in a heavy pan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 290 degrees F on your candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and add red or green food coloring. Spoon onto wax paper- or parchment-lined pans, creating 1- to 2-inch circles. Sprinkle with Christmas silver shot or other cookie decorations, add a stick at the bottom of the lollipop and allow to cool. Package in individual plastic bags or plastic wrap and tie with a colorful ribbon.
Gourmet Candy Apples
Wash 6 to 8 apples, dry them and push a popsicle stick or skewer into each apple almost completely through. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment. Melt one package of caramel candies in the microwave until smooth. Dip each apple in the melted caramel, using a spoon if needed to cover the apples. Set on the wax paper to dry. Melt milk chocolate dipping chocolate discs in the microwave until smooth. Dip the caramel apples in the chocolate, covering the caramel, and set on the wax paper to cool and dry. Melt dark or white dipping chocolate discs in the microwave until smooth. Using a spoon, dribble the dark or white chocolate over the milk chocolate, making a decorative covering but not completely coating the milk chocolate. Sprinkle with nuts, coconut or mini chocolate chips, and set on wax paper to cool. Wrap in Christmas plastic and tie with a festive ribbon.
Filled Chocolate Candies
Purchase commercial chocolate molds and chocolate discs for molding. Make sure that the molds are completely clean before you use them. Melt the chocolate discs according to package directions. Use a spoon to fill the molds halfway. Add an almond or walnut, some dried cranberries or raisins, or broken toffee pieces in a thin layer. Top with more melted chocolate, covering the filling completely. Put the molds in the refrigerator until solid, then package the chocolate pieces in an attractive holiday box.