Nutrition Corner: Holiday cookie gift trays are easy to make

December 6th, 2017 4:23 pm

It’s the holiday season. ‘Tis the season to think of gift giving and that perfect gift and stay within your budget. If you have children, the gift list gets even longer with teachers, Sunday school teachers and friends.

Here is help for that hard-to-buy-for person. You and your child can make easy holiday cookie gift trays together. Attach a nice thank you note for all their help this past year as a finishing touch.

First, start with a gift tray. It could be as reasonable as a dollar item, or more elaborate as a decorative tin. Line it with a lace doily. This gives a nice contrast to the dark no-bake cookie color. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are easy to make and look harder than they are.

Here is the first cookie and it is a no-bake chocolate cookie. If the protein gluten causes a concern, this recipe does not use wheat, barley, rye or triticale. If you prefer not to use margarine, canola oil may be substituted.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup cocoa

4 Tablespoons margarine

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups uncooked quick oats

Combine sugar, water, cocoa, and margarine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Add peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Cool slightly. Drop by spoonful onto a plate. These can be made the day before.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries Dipping Chocolate

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a nice alternative to the usual chocolate chip and cut-out cookies. Dipping chocolate is a bit different because you add shortening to give it a smooth texture. It’s easy. Check the chart below to see how much shortening you add according to which type of chocolate you are using. They also are a bit healthier and will sure to be a hit.

First, place chocolate and vegetable shortening in the top of a double broiler or small bowl. Next, set on the bottom of double boiler or pan half filled with water. Heat on simmer. With a rubber spatula, stir chocolate while melting. Note, do not let water boil.

Once the mixture is melted, remove bowl from pan of hot water and continue to stir until chocolate cools to 80°F or the bowl feels warm. Continue stirring constantly for five minutes to develop crystals for gloss. Rinse and dry strawberries.

Dip room temperature strawberries. Place in the refrigerator until coating sets. You can decorate by drizzling melted white chocolate or leave a bit of strawberry showing for contrast. Place on individual cupcake liners for easy serving. Note, add strawberries to the cookie tray just before delivering.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at