Sweet Christmas Homemade Peppermints, Sugar Cake, Chocolate-Almond Toffee, Eggnog Fudge, and Other Sweet Treats and Decorations

Once a year favorite treats seem to magically appear. Their return year after year is something that makes holiday traditions and memories so special.

Sweet Christmas puts the holidays back into the family kitchen with 100 recipes and projects for holiday treats for parents and children to make together. The recipes are easy to make, don’t require special equipment, and are accompanied by lush color photographs. From real homemade candy (peppermint fudge, pulled ribbon candy, sugared pecans) to edible decorations for the tree (stained glass cookies, Rice Krispie snowmen, chocolate Santa mice) to handmade gifts for special people (golden caramel sauce, dark chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding bonbons), this beautiful and inspiring book even has recipes for Christmas morning: buttery pull-apart bread in a caramel glaze, sticky buns, orange-butter pancakes, and hot maple doughnuts.

Sharon Bowers is the author of the bestselling Ghoulish Goodies (more than 85,000 copies in print) and Candy Construction, and is a regular contributor to NBC’s iVillage. She has appeared in the New York Times and People magazine, and on CBS’s Early Show and ABC News Now. She lives in New York City.

Sweet Christmas puts the holidays back in the family kitchen.”


Peppermint Fudge

Stained-Glass Cookies



Peppermint Fudge



Use up those extra candy canes


Makes about 2 pounds fudge


This is as easy as the eggnog fudge, but this time it’s dark chocolate with a minty kick. The crushed candy canes (or those round pinwheel peppermint candies) add crunch and texture. Break the candy up in the food processor, being careful not to over-process it to a powder, or seal the candy in a heavy, gallon-size ziptop storage bag and let the kids crush it with the bottom of a heavy mug.


2 cups sugar

2 cups (7 ounces) marshmallow cream

¾ cup (5 ounces) evaporated milk

5 tablespoons butter

¼  teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

½  teaspoon peppermint extract



1. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, letting a few inches hang over the sides. Lightly grease the foil and the sides of the pan with butter.


2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, marshmallow cream, evaporated milk, butter, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and cook until the temperature reaches 234 F on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.


3. Pour in the chocolate chips and half of the crushed candy, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Add the peppermint extract, stir, and turn the fudge into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining crushed candy over the surface, pressing it down lightly so it sticks.


4. Chill the fudge until set, then cut it into 1-inch squares. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Note that if your container isn’t airtight, the humidity in the fridge may cause the crushed candy on top to soften.)



Stained-Glass Cookies


Just right for hanging on a tree


Makes about 3 dozen cookies


Crushed candy melts into a little stained-glass window in these delicate little goodies. They’re especially beautiful when hung on a miniature tree so that viewers can appreciate the color and design. They won’t last all season, since the hard candy windows absorb moisture from the air and will eventually start to disintegrate. Ideally, you can hang them somewhere for a party or event, and then let kids eat them after it’s over. It’s also fun to hang them on a window, using suction-cup-hangers that can be found at craft stores. Then you really get to see the light shine through your designs.


½  cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

½  teaspoon baking powder

2 cups hard candies, such as Jolly Ranchers, in different colors

18 feet of  ¼ inch ribbon (optional)


1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest, then add the flour and baking powder. Form the dough into 2 balls, wrap each in plastic, and chill them for 30 minutes.


2. While the dough is chilling, unwrap the candies, dividing them into groups according to color, and put each color in a small zip-top storage bag. Let your kids use the bottom of a heavy mug to crush the candy into tiny pieces (it doesn’t have to be powder; little chunks are fine).


3. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.


4. Sprinkle a little flour on a clean work surface and roll out the first ball of dough to ¼  inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out holiday shapes and lift the cookies onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Use the tip of a paring knife to cut out the interior of each cookie, following the outline but leaving at least ¾  inch of cookie dough as a rim. (You can also just cut a diamond or a circle in the center of the cookie, or you can use another, smaller cookie cutter.) If you want to, use the tip of the paring knife or a drinking straw to cut a little round hole at the top of each cookie, leaving a generous rim of cookie dough above the hole.

5. Use a teaspoon to sprinkle one color of the crushed candy into the opening you’ve cut out of each cookie. Fill it in evenly, but be careful not to sprinkle the candy on the dough. When all the cookies are filled, put the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This will stop the cookie dough from spreading so much in the oven.


6. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, just until the dough is set and the candy is melted. Don’t let them get brown, or they won’t look as pretty! Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. (This is the time to check them to be sure the optional holes for the ribbon are all still open. If not, use the knife or straw to open the hole again while the cookie is still soft.) Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough and candy.


7. When all the cookies are cool, thread a thin loop of ribbon through the hole at the top of each and knot the ends together. Repeat with the remaining cookies. The cookies will survive for about 1 week at room temperature.



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