December 16, 2010

Gifts from the Kitchen

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Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies


I love giving gifts from the kitchen, especially at the holidays.  Before I had children, recipients included family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.   After having children, the list grew to include teachers, coaches and Sunday school teachers to name a few.  Fortunately, food truly is a one size fits all gift.  You don't need to know the person's size or home decor or hobbies.  Food is the one gift that's not likely to get shoved into the back of a closet!


This year, there are 24 people on my list.  Since it's the holidays and the cookies are a gift, I want them to be special, but not time consuming like cut out cookies.  This is when I make a cookie that is so simple it doesn't even have a name.  In fact, it's a technique rather than an actual recipe! All you need are Ritz crackers, peanut butter, chocolate coating and, if desired, sprinkles.  You can make as many or as few as you need.


Start by putting the peanut butter on half of the crackers.  When you spread the peanut butter on the crackers, don't spread it all the way to the edge.  If you do, the peanut butter will ooze out when you add the second cracker.  If that happens, you can use a butter knife to go around the cracker and wipe off the excess peanut butter.  Use the remaining crackers to sandwich the "cookies" together.  To save time, you can assemble the crackers while the chocolate coating melts.  Or, you can assemble the crackers the night before and store them in an airtight container.


Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
Don't spread the peanut butter to the edge of the cracker.

When I first started making these cookies, the coating was called almond bark.  It's now called chocolate coating.  The name isn't the only thing that's changed.  The blocks of chocolate coating are in a new design and harder to break apart.  I had to use a knife to cut them into blocks for melting.  The coating now comes in a microwave-safe tray for easy melting.


Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
The new, but not necessarily improved, chocolate coating.

If the next couple of paragraphs sound familiar, it's because I'm recycling them from a previous blog -- the tips are applicable for these cookies too -- plus adding some additional information.

I always use a 1 1/2-quart crock-pot to melt chocolate coating.  It takes longer to melt, but it remains smooth and you don't have to remelt it like you do when you use a microwave.  A crock-pot keeps the temperature consistent, something that can be tricky if you melt the coating in a double boiler on the stove.  No matter which method you use -- crock-pot, microwave or stove top -- do not cover the container.  If you do, the condensation falls into the coating which hinders melting.  The chocolate coating holds its shape when it melts so you need to stir it periodically until it's smooth.  


I use this candy coating dipping set from Wilton when I coat the cookies.  If you don't have the set, you can use a dinner fork instead.


Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
I use the tool on the left.

To make the cookies, push one cookie at a time under the melted chocolate coating for a few seconds.  Turn the cookie over a time or two to make sure the entire surface gets covered.  Lift the cookie out of the chocolate coating and tap the fork against the container.  This helps the excess coating fall off plus it pops any air bubbles that are on the surface of the coating.  Put the cookie on wax paper.  I can coat three to four dozen cookies with one 16 ounce package of chocolate coating.  You might get more or less depending on how thick you coat the cookies.


Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies


Once you have a row of cookies dipped and on the waxed paper, you can sprinkle them with holiday sprinkles or you can leave them plain.

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies

The easiest way to add sprinkles is to shake them out of the bottle.  This only works if your bottle has a lid with holes designed for shaking.  If you don't have a lid with holes, you'll need to put the sprinkles in a bowl and use your fingers or a small spoon to put them on the cookies.

Once the cookies are dry, remove them from the wax paper.  Some of the cookies may have excess coating on the side.  It can be easily corrected. Wipe the excess chocolate with your finger, smoothing the cookie as you do.  If the chocolate doesn't fall off easily, use the dull side of a butter knife to remove the excess, being careful not to scrape away too much coating. You can smooth the area with your finger once the excess coating is removed.  Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container, separating the layers with wax paper.

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
 Before


Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
 After

Since the cookies are a gift, I like to package them festively.  I use a variety of containers, but you could use a Christmas paper plate.  I line boxes with wax paper and tins with a doily -- Christmas if I have one -- or wax paper. Since some people have peanut allergies, I write "Contains Peanut Butter" on a piece of masking tape and adhere it to the outside of the container.  If the cookies are on a tray, I put the tape on the side of the tray where it is easily visible.

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
Different types of containers I've used.

The cookies may seem time consuming, but they are really quick.  I can make 80 -- start to finish -- in less then three hours.  If they sound good, but you don't want to make them, I saw them advertised in a catalog a few years ago for $12.95 a dozen.  They probably cost more than that now.  If you buy them from a catalog, you might want to order a couple of packages because, like potato chips, you can't eat just one!

© Margaret's Morsels


2 comments:

  1. I make these using Ritz bits - they are awesome.

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    Replies
    1. You obviously have more patience than me! They really are good cookies and easy to make. Thanks for writing.

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