Friday, December 27, 2013

Handmade Christmas: "Santa Hat" Party Mix

Christmas 2012
One of the nice things about handmade gifts is that you can tailor them to the recipient. In our case, our daughters both have gluten and dairy sensitivities, which makes a lot of snack foods off limits.

When I saw this adorable recipe with Santa hats, I decided to give it a shot, especially for Katie who has always had a love of Santa hats.


3 cups mini pretzels

1/2 cup dried cranberries (Oops. Forgot these.)

1 cup salted dry roasted peanuts (Forgot these, too.)

2 cups Rice Chex

2 cups holiday-coloured M&M’s (I used regular Smarties)

8 oz. white chocolate for melting
Step 1: Create the Santa hats.

The most daunting part of this recipe was creating the hats themselves. The recipe called for Bugles - those rice snacks that are actually gluten-free! Unfortunately, our grocery store didn't carry them, so I scrambled to find a triangular gluten-free alternative, and came up with these.

Dip each triangle in "candy melts."
I used the microwave, in 30-second bursts.
I was so afraid of overcooking the candy melts that I may have underheated it. The mixture was quite thick!

Dipping each little hat was rather tedious. The candy seemed to coat each chip really heavily.

So far, so good. Let those little triangles set so you can handle them without covering yourself in nasty goo. (This is possibly the least healthy thing I created this Christmas.) Don't use up all the candy melts! You will need them for the next step.

Step 2: Decorate the hats.

Once they are set, you dip a wide end into the (rewarmed) candy melts and then into white sprinkles.
Aren't these adorable?

Then dip a mini marshmallow into the candy melt and affix it to the "top" of the Santa hat.

Step 3: Drizzle the white chocolate.

By this time, I was DONE with this whole thing. But I still had to melt white chocolate and drizzle it over most of the remaining ingredients. I obviously was more excited about those cute little hats than the rest of the recipe because:
  1. I forgot the dried cranberries and nuts.
  2. I accidentally added the Smarties to the mix when I poured on the white chocolate.
The mix. I added in the imperfect rice chips.
Lesson learned the hard way (again!): assemble all the ingredients before you start doing ANYTHING.

Tough patooties. I could always add the missing ingredients to the mix after the fact, but assembling the snack in the gift container was a little tricky.

I carefully placed a layer of hats around the perimeter of the jar, then filled the centre with mix, then layered another row and filled it. So, yah. I left out all the healthy ingredients.

This was the most expensive of my handmade gifts, coming in at $50 (ouch!), partly because of the 3-quart glass jar, but also because of the gluten-free products and other expensive ingredients. (Why they can charge more for a chip made out of rice rather than wheat is beyond me. But they do.)

I'm not sure I would do this one again. I'm sure there is something healthier and less costly -- and equally festive -- that I could use to fill this jar. But it got rave reviews from the recipient!

To read more in this series, visit my Handmade Christmas page.

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