Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Leprechaun Bark

Today we’re going to make another one of those recipes that can be tweaked for any holiday or anyone’s favorites. Leprechaun Bark is a fast and easy way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or any other holiday. I’ve made Easter Bark and Halloween Bark, and I decided it’s time to celebrate spring with this green and very delightful treat. Why not celebrate absolutely EVERY holiday?!! There really isn’t too much of a recipe for this, you just melt chocolate or almond bark or candy melts and decorate like crazy. I think kids would really have fun with this, even though you may end up with sprinkles or candies all over your kitchen. Well, that can happen even when there aren’t any kids helping you make this.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Leprechaun Bark

Put a sheet of parchment paper onto the tray you want to use for making your bark.

Top the tray with pretzels, if desired.

Melt:

1 package dark chocolate chips

Pour over top of pretzels, or just onto the parchment paper.

Drizzle on:

1/2 package of white chocolate chips, melted

Sprinkle on:

Appropriate colored candies

Sprinkles

Chopped cookie bits (I used Oreo Mint Thins for this batch)

Nuts (I didn’t use any nuts on this batch)

Let cool (I put the pan into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes).

Break into pieces.

I like a bit of the sweet and salty thing, so I always add pretzels when I make bark. I’m not sure if you can tell what I did wrong here. I broke the number one rule of making bark. I forgot to put a sheet of parchment paper under the pretzels. In this case, I used a baking sheet that is almost non-stick, so it worked out all right, but please – DON’T FORGET TO USE PARCHMENT PAPER!! I had to put the baking sheet into the freezer so it got really hard and came off the sheet just fine. Whew.

I like a bit of mint, but not a lot, so I used thin mint cookies, green candies, green sugar, white jimmies, and crystal sugar (for some sparkle).

Before cooling the chocolate is glossy.  You can see a bit of a difference once it’s cooled.

So festive!

You can cut this into pieces if you want to, but when you use pretzels for the bottom, it breaks apart very easily.

Here it is – the perfect St. Patty’s snack.

Try making this very festive holiday treat! It’s so easy to do and fun to make. You’ll be hooked. I’m telling ya. You’ll want to make this for every holiday!

 

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Fantasy Fudge

The recipe for today came from my other grandma. She loved Christmas, too, and made a lot of goodies every year. She had a sister-in-law who made a lot of candy, and that’s probably where she got a lot of these Christmas candy recipes. I used to sit for hours in front of Grandma and Gramp’s big silver Christmas tree watching the color wheel change colors over and over and over again. They had blue decorations on it and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would lay right down under the bottom branches and watch the glittering branches change from red to blue to green to yellow. I loved that tree. Gramp had a sweet tooth like no other, and at Christmastime he would come home with many different kinds of Christmas candy. That may be why Grandma made so many different kinds of candy at that time of year. I know that she got this recipe for Fantasy Fudge from a family member sometime in the 1970’s, and that’s how long I’ve been making it, too. This does make a big batch, which is good, cuz it doesn’t last long. Just sayin’.

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Oh man, does this bring back memories of Christmas back in the day!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Fantasy Fudge

Combine in heavy pan:

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (5 oz. can)

3/4 cup butter

Bring to a full boil.

Boil 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in:

12 ounce package of chocolate chips

Stir until melted.

Add:

7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme

1 cup nuts, chopped (I didn’t add nuts because not all in my family like them)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until well blended.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Cool at room temperature.

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Again – pretty simple ingredients that add up to a delicious treat!

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Get the syrup boiling away.

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Add the chocolate chips.

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Mix in the vanilla and the marshmallow crème.

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Pour it into a baking pan.

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That’s it! A huge batch of fudge that will last you into the new year. Maybe.

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This is another ridiculously quick and easy recipe that makes a lot – perfect for gift giving or as part of your cookie tray. If you want this to last until into the new year, I guess I would hide some. That’s what I have to do in my family, or there just won’t be any left. If you don’t hide it, it’s just too handy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

 

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Caramel Candy

This recipe for Caramel Candy came from a family friend years ago. I think I was in junior high school when I started making these caramels, and our family has made them ever since. I used to have the perfect candy-making pot, but it was non-stick and the inside started to get too beat up to keep using. It was orange (I’d had it since the 70’s) and I loved that pot. I haven’t found another one that keeps the temperature nice and even without scorching until this year. Last year for Christmas, my husband gave me a ridiculously expensive copper pot. I was not happy, but he was. WHO wants me to keep making candy (all the while talking about how we need to stop eating candy)? I would guess that it’s someone who gives people copper pots for gifts. Anywhoooo, I decided to give the new copper pot a try BEFORE the holiday season and see just how great this thing is gonna be. Well. It. Is. Amazing. The heat seemed to stay nice and even, and the syrup heated up pretty fast with no scorching. I have to admit that it works great. Ok, ok, I know. That means more candy making. I mean, I have to use the pot, right? It can’t just sit there looking all pretty and coppery, right?

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These caramels are amazingly delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Caramel Candy

Cook to hard ball:

2 cups sugar

2 cups dark corn syrup

Remove from heat and add:

1 cup butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Return to heat and cook to soft ball.

Pour into 9″ x 13″ pan lined with buttered foil.

When cool, flip upside down onto cutting board, cut into pieces, and wrap in waxed paper.

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It’s really only necessary to lightly butter the foil.

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Here is the infamous copper pot, before and during boiling to hard ball! If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use the ice water method and drop a bit of caramel from a spoon into ice water to see how hard it gets. Does it turn into a soft ball of caramel or a hard ball of caramel?

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The caramel seems like it will never cool. Sometimes I put it into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to help it cool down faster. Just don’t let it get too hard before cutting it.

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Cut the pieces of waxed paper big enough to wrap the caramel candies in and still be able to twist the ends. You can find pre-cut wrappers online, but I just use a roll of waxed paper and cut my own.

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It’s easy to flip the caramel out of the pan. I put it onto another piece of waxed paper, just in case it would stick to the cutting board. Peel off the foil and you’re ready to cut. Use a large knife sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to cut the caramels into pieces. I think I could have cut these a bit smaller, but can you really ever have too much caramel?

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Before wrapping, I sprinkled on a bit of sea salt crystals. Oh boy – you know, that sweet and salty thing?!!!

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This is about the right size to wrap and twist.

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One pan makes a lot of candies, so you might want to recruit someone to help cut and wrap.

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Oh wow. These are so good!

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I have to admit that my new copper pot is wonderful, and I highly recommend you get one. These caramels are amazingly delicious and they make a great gift or hostess gift for the upcoming holidays. Make a batch and give it a try. It takes some time, but they really aren’t hard to make. I gave some of these to my friends, and I hid the rest from Mr. Copper Pot. Trust me, you have to hide them or they won’t last long!

 

 

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Easter Treats

Here are some past posts for Easter Treats that I think you’ll enjoy! Try them all!

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Hopping Bunny Rolls

Easter Bark

Easter Bark

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Hot Crossed Buns

Iowa Ham Balls

Iowa Ham Balls

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Truffles

I’m sharing a photo of me with two of my favorite valentines today. This is from February 1961, so I’m about 2 months old here with Grandma and Grandpa. I love this photo – me with my hair in a point at the top of my head, their funky glasses, the wallpaper. It could just be me, but they look awfully proud! I’m pretty tiny, being born a month early and weighing in at just over 5 pounds. My mom says that my grandmas wouldn’t hold me right away because I was so tiny. My sister still likes to point out that I’m a shorty. This is partly why my children now call me “lil peanut”, because I’m still the shortest one in the family!

Chocolate Truffles

Well, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I thought that today I’d like to try a new recipe that would be a good one to make for your valentine. I decided on a Chocolate Truffle that is Ina Garten’s recipe. This recipe is so easy and so versatile, that I know you’re going to want to make these, too!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Truffles

(This makes a lot – I made half of this recipe.)

Finely chop and put into a heatproof bowl:

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate (Ina recommends Lindt)

1/2 pound semisweet chocolate (Ina recommends Ghirardelli)

Bring to a boil:

1 cup heavy cream

Turn off heat and let sit 20 seconds.

Pour cream through a fine sieve into the bowl with the chocolate.

With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk in:

2 Tablespoons orange liqueur (Ina recommends Grand Marnier – I had Cointreau so I used that) or other flavored liqueur

1 Tablespoon prepared coffee

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

With 2 teaspoons, make round balls of chocolate mixture and put onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or waxed paper.

Roll each ball in hands to roughly make it round.

Roll balls in powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

You can also roll them in colored sprinkles, coconut, chopped nuts or anything that sounds tasty to you.

Ina says these will keep in the refrigerator for weeks, but they’re best served at room temperature.

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It does take a while to chop the chocolate. Into the bowl it goes.

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Pour the boiling cream in and whisk until it’s glossy and melted.

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Once the flavorings are in, it’s a beautiful, glossy bowl of goodness. Once the chocolate is set, it turns more of a matte consistency.

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I tried to roll the chocolate too soon and it just coated my hands instead of rolling into a ball. Then I let it sit a bit too long and it was pretty firm, the chocolate mixture didn’t really scoop into round balls. I think it’s best to keep an eye on it to see exactly when to start rolling the balls. It was harder to roll the balls to go into the powdered sugar and powdered cocoa when I left it a bit too long.

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I remember hearing once that truffles are supposed to look like the truffles that are dug up from underground (the fungus), so it’s ok if they aren’t exactly round. They’re supposed to look earthy.

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For gift giving you can pop the truffles into some pretty paper cups. These make a nice valentine gift, birthday gift, Christmas gift, hostess gift , anytime gift.

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Your valentine will be very grateful for these amazingly delicious chocolate treats. They are smooth and creamy and just melt in your mouth. Make them now and they’ll be in your refrigerator, ready to go, by Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peanut Butter Snowballs

I just had to share this photo today. The date on the bottom says 1949 and I absolutely LOVE this one! Love the wallpaper, love the carpet, love the beautiful little tree, love the way grandma and grandpa are looking at my mom and my uncle! They actually look like they were having fun taking this photo, so it seems like a more casual photo than the usual formal ones. You can almost hear Bing Crosby singing on the radio!!! My mom still has the lamp in the back corner with the round globe.

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There’s my mom in the bobby sox again! They look like they’re straight out of the move “A Christmas Story”!

The recipe for today wasn’t originally called Peanut Butter Snowballs. Back when Grandma first made these for us, they didn’t have a name and she had colored the almond bark green, so me, my dad, and my sister, in our infinite wisdom and junior high humor, called them “Goobers”. It didn’t seem very appropriate to keep that name. I decided not to color the almond bark for this batch, keep them white, and rename them Peanut Butter Snowballs. I don’t have her original recipe anymore, so I’ll just type it out here.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peanut Butter Snowballs

Melt:

1 cup peanut butter

2 Tablespoons butter

Mix in:

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups Rice Krispies

Make into balls and put in refrigerator for 1 hour or more or overnight (I also put the bowl into the frig for about 30 min just to cool if off a bit before rolling).

Roll in melted almond bark (can use food coloring).

Could use melted chocolate.

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It’s a pretty simple recipe with just a few ingredients, but man, are these good!

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I’m sure that as usual, I made them way too big. I found that when rolling the balls, using a light hand helped the balls stick together better.

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There is always a bit of almond bark left over whenever you make candies this time of year. I just throw in some peanuts and some crushed up pretzels, let it cool, and give it to the family so they keep their hands off the real Christmas cookies!

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I tried a few different kinds of sprinkles until I decided on using the large white sugar. They look like ice crystals.

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These are great, but I would try to make them smaller next time. These are – plenty sweet – but they make a great gift or addition to your cookie tray. They look like pretty little snowballs!

 

 

 

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Nut Brittle

Today’s recipe comes from my other Grandma! I can’t remember a Christmas growing up when she DIDN’T make this Nut Brittle. My Gramp liked candy and Grandma made him several kinds to choose from every year. She made Nut Brittle, Hard Candy, Chocolate Bon-Bons, and Fudge. Gramp would also bring home candy from work at Christmas time that you wouldn’t see at any other time of the year. That’s the beauty of growing up in a smaller town – there were people who actually made candy at Christmas time and would go around town and sell it. I remember two kinds of candy specifically – one that was white hard candy rectangle that had a black walnut filling in it, and one that was almost like sponge candy, only different. I don’t exactly know how to explain that one, but it was delicious. We spent most Christmas Eve’s with my dad’s side of the family because we had cousins to be together with on his side. We don’t have a lot of photos of Grandma and Gramp at Christmas time, probably because she was in the kitchen most of the time – she loved to cook, too. Here is one photo we do have from the early 1970’s and it’s me, my sister, and Grandma. There are those matching plaid jumpers again – and my sister must have opened a present and is really loving that puppy! Ha!

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Grandma must have just had her hair done (by one of her neighbors who had a salon in her basement) for the holiday – it’s looking good! I love and miss that smile of hers!

Nut Brittle

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This is really a pretty easy and delicious brittle.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Nut Brittle

In a 3 quart heavy saucepan, stir together:

2 cups sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1/2 cup water

Boil rapidly until it reaches 275 degrees.

Add:

1 1/2 cups raw peanuts or other coarsely chopped nuts

Continue boiling, stirring often, until it reaches 295 degrees.

Remove from heat.

Mix together and quickly stir in:

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Then stir in:

1/4 cup margarine (I used butter)

Immediately pour hot mixture onto greased baking sheet.

When cool, break into pieces.

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I have also used cocktail peanuts instead of raw peanuts when making this and it seems to come out just fine.

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Adding the baking soda, salt, and butter turns the hot syrup into molten lava!!!

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I don’t spread it once it’s on the baking sheet – I like it thicker.

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This makes a big batch – a whole baking sheet full.

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My family can never get enough peanut brittle at Christmas time. I always end up making a second batch. This recipe is really a good one. Make some for your family this year!

 

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Turtle Clusters

The recipe for today is another one that is easy to do and makes a big batch. These Turtle Clusters are a candy that’s really nice for gift giving. They’re similar to the Nut Goodie Candy I posted last December, but much more fudgy. I love that you can use the microwave to make these. Grandma and Grandpa were great proponents of the microwave, and when they got their first one, they used it a lot. Grandpa was famous in the family for his microwave peanut brittle, and I’m sure Grandma was excited about using something for her cooking that was quick, easy to use, and didn’t use as much electricity or get as hot as the stove. They kept up with technology, were always moving forward, and kept up with all of the new-fangled technology. I loved that about them!

Turtle Clusters

Note that this one also has the “V Good” connotation!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Turtle Clusters

Melt in microwave:

3 cups chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Then add:

1 jar marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fold in:

1 pound chopped pecans, dry roasted peanuts, or nuts

32 large marshmallows, quartered or 32 caramels, quartered (I used caramels)

Put on waxed paper until set.

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This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it all does mix in!

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When the first mixture is melted and mixed, it looks like fudge!

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Yep – it’s pretty much fudge with nuts and caramels mixed in!

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I would definitely chop the pecans finer next time – the clusters got a bit big, but then I always have a problem making candies too big. Chopping the pecans into finer pieces might make it easier to make the candies smaller. I used two spoons to scoop them, and smaller pieces would be easier and quicker to get them off of the spoon. Once the pecans and caramel are mixed in, you have to work fast so it doesn’t firm up before you’re done. It’s a big batch so having someone to help would make things easier.

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Definitely fudge with goodies mixed in. Definitely.

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Once they set, they’re less glossy than when originally put onto the baking sheet. These are so good and chewy and chocolaty and nutty and fudgy. Try out this new-fangled gadget – the microwave. Your friends and family would love to get a box of these. I recommend getting them into a box and wrapped as soon as you possibly can. I think you can guess why!

 

 

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Halloween Treats

All week I have shared treats appropriate for the season and today I’m sharing a selection of Halloween Treats from past posts! They’re quick and easy to make (and delicious!) and I know you’re going to love them!

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Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

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Halloween Popcorn Balls

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Rollo Pretzel Treats for Halloween

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Chocolate Rice Krispie Cookies

 

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Halloween Bark

You see this Halloween Bark all over the internet and I thought it was so cute and festive, I just had to try it! It’s similar to the Easter Bark I made a year ago last Easter. This isn’t something you’d eat a lot of (it’s plenty sweet!), but it’s very festive and can look as much like Halloween as you want. You could also use this as Thanksgiving Bark because most of the colors in it are fall or harvest colors. You could make Christmas Bark, you could make Valentines Bark, you could make Birthday Bark, the list goes on and on. There really isn’t a recipe for this, you can put anything you want in it, so I’ll just type out what I did.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Halloween Bark

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sprinkle baking sheet with broken up pretzels, peanuts, candy corn, chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, whatever you want in it.

Melt one package of almond bark and pour over top.

Spread the melted almond bark over the chopped goodies.

Top with more peanuts, candy corn, chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, and sprinkles of your choice.

Let cool and harden.

Cut or break into pieces.

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You can also use the chocolate sandwich cookies with the orange filling.

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There is just enough almond bark to cover one baking sheet.

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You can put as many sprinkles and goodies on it as you can! It’s so pretty! It looks like a party! I just love it!

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This also makes a great Halloween gift or hostess gift. Just put some in a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty Halloween ribbon.

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It cuts or breaks into pieces very easily. I like the look of the cut pieces.

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This is really good, but “plenty sweet”! I’m glad I put both pretzels AND peanuts in it. The salty bits make it so good – sweet AND salty! It’s very festive and pretty for the season! Make up a batch and treat your family and friends – they may “trick” you in return!

 

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