Join Me in the Holiday Kitchen: Toffee Crack-up

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Well, friends, ready or not, Christmas is upon us! I hope you are ready and relaxed! Every year the holiday season seems to fly by quicker than the last, and given the “unusual circumstances” we have been coping with this year, it seems as though it has gone even quicker.

While much of what we normally expect of the holiday season has been abbreviated, if not cancelled all together, one thing that (hopefully) has remained is that delicious platter of homemade Christmas cookies sitting on your kitchen table! I believe homemade treats are always nice to give (and especially nice to receive!) because they have been made with love sprinkled on top, this year seems more appropriate than ever to pass along a little extra love!

When baking cookies to give as gifts, you will want to keep in mind how they will be delivered to the recipient. If you will be hand delivering them, simply placing them on a pretty tray and wrapping with plastic wrap will work. If, however you plan to ship them out of town, here are a few tricks to keep in mind:

Shape is important! Small, round or flat cookies will pack most easily.

Texture of the cookies makes a big difference, so try to avoid very tender cookies…go for the firmer ones (such as chocolate chip, peanut butter, or shortbread varieties), as they will be less likely to crumble. Careful packaging of the cookies will keep them fresher and keep the flavors from mingling! Whenever possible, separate each variety by packing in separate zipper bags. Flat cookies can be stacked and round cookies should be laid flat.

When boxing the cookies, plan to use lots of bubble wrap! Place a layer of bubble wrap in box first, then fit bagged cookies in box, layering alternately with more bubble wrap and packing as closely as possible as you fill your box (thus the importance of choosing firmer cookies!). Remember, you don’t want them to have any “wiggle-room”, so while you don’t want to crush them, do pack them snugly.

Finally, while it may be pricey, expedited sipping methods work best when shipping cookies. You don’t want the recipient getting stale, weeks old treats!

While the season is flying by, I recommend finding a few minutes for yourself when you can to sit back, grab a Gazette, a cup of coffee and a few cookies and savor the season! My wish for you all is a very, Merry Christmas and a most HEALTHY New Year!

Toffee Crack-Up

50 saltine crackers
1 C butter
1 C brown sugar
2 C chocolate chips
½ to 1 C mini M&M’s, crushed peppermints or chopped nuts

Pre-heat oven to 325*

Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Line pan with the saltines.

Place butter and brown sugar in a medium pot and heat to a boil for 2-3 minutes.

Carefully pour hot mixture over saltines. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crackers. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove and let sit until chocolate melts, then carefully spread to cover. Top with desired toppings.

Once cool, break apart to serve. Store in air-tight container.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.