With the holidays approaching, I have been planning gift boxes and baskets for those important people in our lives. I love to do homemade gifts for the holidays because it feels more personal and I can often get the whole family involved in helping. I decided to make a sweet treat gift box for a special teacher in our life. I filled the box with some perfect treats for a cold winter's night. Read on to see how I filled the box with Hot Cocoa Popcorn Balls, Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate and Candied Beef Jerky Bites.
I went to Target to get my supplies. I am just loving the retro look of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix. It brings back memories of cold winter days as I snuggled up with a mug and a good book. I grabbed a box of Orville Redenbacher's gourmet popcorn - some will be used to make popcorn balls and the rest will be for a family movie night. Finally, I grabbed some Slim Jim beef jerky. I have had candied bacon in the past and loved it and recently tried making candied beef jerky. It is the most marvelous combination of sweet, savory and spicy and I knew I had to include it my sweet treats gift box.
For Hot Cocoa Popcorn Balls you will need:
- Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn (1 bag - 12 cups of popcorn)
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine
- 4 cups of mini marshmallows
- 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips
- 1 packet of Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix
In a large saucepan under low heat, melt the butter and add 4 cups of mini marshmallows. Keep stirring until the marshmallows are completely melted. When the marshmallows have melted, add one packet of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa mix. Keep stirring on low heat until the hot chocolate mix has dissolved into the marshmallow mix.
Place popped popcorn in a large bowl and pour the marshmallow mixture on top. Mix until the pieces have been coated with the mixture.
When the popcorn has been fully coated with the marshmallow mixture, add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and stir.
Spray your hands liberally with cooking spray before you form the popcorn balls. The mixture is very sticky and this will keep it from sticking to your hands. Form the mixture into 3 inch balls. Squeeze the popcorn tightly together so the ball will not fall apart.
Place the formed balls on parchment paper until they are set.
These popcorn balls really taste like hot cocoa, plus they have a nice, chewy consistency (think rice krispie treats). I bought my kids some popcorn balls for Halloween and they were so hard, my kids could not bite into them and ended up throwing them out. These were promptly gobbled up.
For the Candied Beef Jerky Bites you will need:
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- Slim Jims (I used this package that contained 15 snack sticks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the Slim Jims into bite sized pieces and spread them in out in a pan. Cover them with the 1/2 cup of brown sugar. This looks like a ton of sugar but most of it will dissolve in the pan and a little will coat the Slim Jims.
Bake for 20 minutes. Take out after the 10 minute mark to stir the pieces.
Use tongs to removed the beef jerky from the sugar syrup and place on parchment paper to cool.
When the candied meat sticks are cooled, place them in a mason jar. You can add a ribbon and even a label if you want for easy gifting. I'll let you in on a little secret - you will want to make a double batch of these. We've actually been eating the Candied Beef Jerky Bites we made for the gift box and had to make another batch to gift! They are crunchy, savory, sweet and addicting. Want proof? I am eating some as I type up this post.
I placed the mason jar with the candied beef jerky and some wrapped popcorn balls into a lovely gift box where I added a nice big mug filled with Swiss Miss packets and mini marshmallows. These snacks are perfect for munching on while sitting in front of a fire. I ended up spending less than $10 to make this sweet treats box, but it doesn't seem like a cheap gift because of the care and thought that went into it.
If you would like to create a gift basket like we did, Target and Conagra can help. Simply click below for great coupons on the products we used:
- Save $3 when you buy 4 (FOUR) Orville 6-packs: http://cbi.as/9wop-
- Save $1 when you buy 5 (FIVE) Slim Jim Giant Twin Packs: http://cbi.as/1cgjf
- Save $1 off 4 (FOUR) Swiss Miss 8ct or larger: http://cbi.as/zxe90
What are your favorite homemade treats to give as gifts?