One Christmas Eve when I was very young, I woke up in the night to the sounds of giggles and rustling downstairs.
I slid out of my bed, careful not to jostle my sleeping sister, and tiptoed down the hall to try to sneak a look at the elves I was sure I would find in the living room. I descended the stairs on my bottom, keeping my head low to avoid detection — Santa knows when you’re sleeping, but I was hoping he was too busy to notice I was out of bed.
I got to the landing and ever so slowly peeked around the corner and found my mother bent intently over a pink Barbie Jeep, carefully placing the stickers on the door. My dad was on the floor wrapping gifts while our giant dog sat next to him, eyes trained on the plate of cheese and sausage on the coffee table.
I watched them for a little while as they prepared our Christmas morning, then silently crawled back up the stairs to put myself to bed — not a baby anymore.
Now I’m the one making Christmas, and my little one’s magical memories depend upon my effort. I am admittedly not the best decorator (my sister takes that cake) and I don’t have a hand for crafts like my mother did, but I sing for him all day long. So my just turned 3-year-old can already sing a few carols, and mommy is a good storyteller, so he already has a head full of Christmas lore to dream about.
My real talent in the season is my pastry and candy skills — and I try to include him whenever I bake. He’s too young to twist candy canes, (we’ll save that until middle school) but he’s more than capable of rolling cookies and sampling the chocolate chips.
This fudge recipe makes a great gift for a neighbor and is so easy you can get it done and still have the energy to wrap a gift or two.
Double Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
1 bag semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 candy canes, crushed
Prepare an 8 x 8 baking dish (or a loaf pan if you want thicker pieces) and line with parchment, being sure to leave extra parchment up the sides of the pan — this will help you unmold the fudge when it’s finished.
In a heat proof bowl, combine the dark chocolate chips and ½ of the can of sweetened condensed milk.
Set over a double boiler and heat until melted, stirring constantly.
When the mixture is fully melted, drop in 2 tablespoons of butter and keep stirring until completely incorporated. The mixture should be thick.
Take off the heat and add the peppermint extract.
Pour into the parchment lined pan and smooth until flat.
Put in the refrigerator to set while you repeat the process with the white chocolate chips.
By the time the white chocolate portion is ready, the dark chocolate portion will have set enough.
Pour the white chocolate over the dark and smooth until flat.
Sprinkle on the crushed candy cane, pressing down to imbed some pieces in the fudge.
Return to the refrigerator and chill until fully set — an hour should be plenty. Slice cold.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month — but it won’t last that long.