Welcome I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, filled with loving family and delicious food. After all, that’s what it’s all about, right? It is, but have you ever felt not-so-happy during the holiday season? I get it, I’ve been there, too. So how did we go from the holiday season being “the most wonderful time of the year” to being more like Nightmare on 34th Street?
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Food For Thought I seem to allow myself to get all kinds of stressed-out during the holidays, even though our family tries really hard to stay low-key during the season. We are really good at not over-extending ourselves or packing our calendar with so much that we don’t each have some downtime during the season. After all, what’s the fun in being so busy you can’t enjoy the beauty of the season? However, it’s about this time of year my former perfectionist-self tries to take over again.
In my attempts to make everything perfect, from the decorations to the food to the gifts, I put WAY too much pressure on myself. And you know what? It is JUST NOT NECESSARY. Will I feed the extended family for our holiday meal and celebration? Yes, everyone will have plenty to eat, even if it’s not gourmet and I don’t have everyone’s exact favorite dish or dessert. Will there be gifts for everyone? Yes, even if they are more budget-friendly this year. Holiday gifts should not be about the cost, anyway, no matter what the marketing industry tries to convince us every time we turn on the television or pick up a magazine. And our house will be decorated for Christmas, even if it doesn’t look like it belongs in Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living.
The point is, I won’t please everyone. It’s impossible. So why should I sacrifice my own holiday joy for a few “stinker thinkers” that might cross my path? Well, this year, I’m going to try my hardest to NOT let that happen. I want the holiday season to be full of happiness for me and my family, no matter what the finished “product” may look like. Mismatched wrapping paper. Check. Nonthematic Christmas tree decorations. Check. Side dish delegation for family dinner. Check. Keeping under budget for the holiday season. Hopefully check. Less holiday stress and more happy memories. Definitely check.
Today’s Recipes Today I’m sharing seven of the EASIEST holiday candy recipes EVER! These are great for keeping my holidays low-stress for a few reasons. One, they really are super easy to make with few ingredients required for each recipe. Second, anytime I’m in the kitchen makin’ and bakin’, it’s a stress reliever for me. And finally, these easy candies double as dessert table goodies OR edible gifts, so you can cross TWO things off your to-do list at once. WARNING: This is NOT diet food!!!
Loaded Reese’s Bark is our first recipe, inspired by Lisa at Wine and Glue, and is a chocolate and peanut butter heaven on earth! I changed it up a bit and added chopped Reese’s cups to the original recipe to really load it up! Bark is always one of the EASIEST candies to make. All you really know how to “cook” is melting some chocolate. It’s a treat that you want to break, so appearance is less tricky. Plus, this recipe makes A LOT, perfect for sharing!
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
- 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate pieces
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped
- 1 4-oz box Reese’s Pieces peanut butter candies
Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate pieces over medium-low heat. Spread melted chocolate over wax paper to make a thin coating. Place in refrigerator to set. Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until a sticky dough forms.
When chocolate is set, place peanut butter filling on top. Spread to coat the base of the bark–I use a rolling pin to spread the peanut butter filling out evenly. Place back in refrigerator to set. Melt the milk chocolate pieces over medium-low heat. When peanut butter layer is thoroughly chilled, spread the melted milk chocolate over the top. Sprinkle all the peanut butter cups and candies over the top of the chocolate and press down slightly with a spoon. Chill for one hour. When candy is set, break into pieces (using your hands or a knife) and place in a decorative tin lined with tissue paper.
Microwave Peanut Butter Fudge is not my original recipe. It’s floating steadily around the internet right now. I first saw this from Lilly on Instrupix. Talk about EASY! And only 4 ingredients! While it’s technically not “fudge,” it’s so incredibly good, it may just become your new go-to candy recipe.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 16 oz. powdered sugar
Line a 8-inch square pan with wax paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 90 seconds to 2 minutes, until melted. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When mixture is thick, dump into the prepared pan, pressing the mixture well into each of the corners. Take another piece of wax paper and place on top, then using your hands press the mixture down to become compact and smooth. Place in refrigerator to chill for two hours. Lift wax paper from pan and using a large knife, cut fudge into cubes before adding to a cookie tin or serving tray.
Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles is another easy, 4-ingredient treat. If you like Nutella and Oreos, then this is the candy for you! This makes one dozen large truffles. You might be able to get two dozen, if you make them very small.
- 20 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo)
- 5 or 6 TBS of chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
- 8 oz chocolate candy melt (such as Almond Bark)
- Holiday sprinkles
Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Place cookies in food processor bowl and pulse until crumbs are formed. Stir in chocolate hazelnut spread, starting with the lowest amount, and adding until a firm dough is formed. Using your hands, roll cookie mixture into a dozen round balls and place on wax paper. Chill for an hour.
Place candy melt in microwave-safe bowl and melt according to package directions. Dip cookie balls into melted chocolate and add holiday sprinkles to the tops while chocolate is still wet. Place back and refrigerator and chill another hour. Place in individual candy papers, if desired, before adding to a tin or tray.
Holiday Marshmallow Pops is another simple treat that is perfect for the kids! They can even help make them and marshmallows and chocolate candy melt are all you need! I like to place the pops in a clear jar or vase that has been filled with additional marshmallows or festive red and green candies for a cute centerpiece on the dessert or cookie table. I made 8 pops, each containing 3 large marshmallows. You could also do 12 pops with 2 marshmallows on each stick.
- 24 large marshmallows
- 8 cookie pop sticks
- 6 oz chocolate candy melt (such as Almond Bark)
- 12 each of red and green candy melts (such as Wilton)
- 8 miniature marshmallows
Place 3 large marshmallows on each stick. Melt the chocolate candy melt in a microwave-safe dish according to package directions. Dip each marshmallow pop in the chocolate and turn to coat (using a spoon or chocolate drizzle tool will help with this also.) To set the chocolate, turn a colander upside down and place each marshmallow pop stick in one of the holes, which will hold up the pop until the chocolate can set. The chocolate coating will set in about 30 minutes. Melt the red and green candies, each in their own dish, according to package directions. Using a spoon or drizzle tool, drizzle the red and green melted chocolate back and forth across the marshmallow pops until desired pattern is achieved. Top each stick with a mini-marshmallow to look like a little snow cap (and to keep the stick from poking out!) Leave in the colander to finish setting the chocolate before transferring to display container.
The Easiest Chocolate Fudge is my go-to fudge recipe each holiday season. I shared this recipe last year on the blog, but no simple treats list is complete without it.
- 18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (about 1 1/2 bags)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- a dash of salt
In medium saucepan, melt chocolate and milk together, stirring constantly. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
Line an 8-inch square pan with wax paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm. Lift wax paper from pan and cut fudge into cubes using a sharp knife. Place fudge cubes into mini paper candy cups, if desired, before putting in tins or on a festive tray.
Cookies and Cream Fudge was inspired by Karly at Buns in My Oven. I tweaked it a little for my version here, but what a great new twist on two classics–fudge and Oreo cookies! This is a five ingredient recipe, but still comes together really fast.
- 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
- 12 oz. white chocolate
- 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, divided
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
Line a 9×13 pan with wax paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Crush 12 of the chocolate cookies with rolling pin or mallet. Set remaining four cookies aside.
Melt chocolate in pan over medium heat. Beat cream cheese with mixer until smooth. Add in melted white chocolate and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined. Add crushed cookie pieces to the mixing bowl. Continue to beat on low speed, adding one cup of powdered sugar at a time until a thick dough-like consistency is achieved. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press into the corners. Lay another piece of wax paper over the top of the mixture and press down with hands until the cookies and cream mixture is spread smoothly and evenly over the pan. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Break remaining cookies into large pieces and press gently into the top of the fudge. Refrigerate for one hour.
When chilled, lift wax paper from the pan and use a sharp knife to cut the fudge into cubes before placing in a candy tin or on a serving tray.
Grasshopper Mint Candy Cups is a recipe I tried to invent this year after having a similar candy from a store in a tourist-y area. My reinvention, while tasty, isn’t as pretty as I had hoped. But with only three ingredients and two dozen cups, it’s worth an add to this easy candy list.
- 6 oz. chocolate candy melt (such as Almond Bark)
- 4 oz. white chocolate candy melt (such as Almond Bark)
- 10 oz. pkg. Ande’s Candies Baking pieces
- 24 mini paper candy cups.
Line a mini-muffin tin with the paper candy cups. Melt the chocolate candy melt according to the package directions and divide evenly between the 24 candy cups. Place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate for about 30 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate according to package directions. Gently stir in the Ande’s baking pieces, trying to not melt them completely. Spoon this mixture evenly onto each of the chocolate bases in the candy cups. Add green sprinkles or crushed mints, if desired. Place back in refrigerator for another hour to finish setting the candies.
Today’s Recommended Products for Candy Making