SpouseBuzz

Easy Crafts for an Annual MilSpouse Gift Exchange

I freely admit it: I'm a under-achieving crafter. Some call it "lazy," but I like to think of it as less laziness and more a matter of priorities. I just don't have the time or patience for hours with my hot glue gun or Kitchen Aide mixer.

Raleigh Duttweiler, my SpouseBuzz partner in crafting, however, is a different story. Raleigh not only crafts well, but she loves doing it.

So when we decided to put together a helper-SpouseBuzz post with ideas on what to take to a spouse group gift or baked goods exchange, we thought it would be best to pool our brains and do it together.

The result? Two under-achieving options and two over-achieving ones for that base upcoming gift exchange.

Lazy Craft: 'Drunk' Hot Cocoa

Amy: This was extraordinarily easy to make -- and the result is class-tastic:

baileys-cocoa-finished

Find all the details here on how to make yummy and fun gift.

Less Lazy Craft: Cookie Cutter Ornament Brownies

cookie cutter ornaments

Raleigh: I feel like these are the Christmas Gift trifecta: It's an ornament (just look at it!), it's a present (yes, you DO need these super festive cookie cutters!), and it's edible. Deliciously, wonderfully, edible.

And every present is better with chocolate.

But despite looking pretty awesome, they are actually super easy to make.  Find some cookie cutters you'd like to turn into ornaments (I got these at Michael's), and scrub them clean. Place them on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, and preheat the oven according to your favorite brownie recipe. (Duncan Hines pictured here... like I said. Not exactly overachiever, just not-entirely-lazy.)

Fill each cookie cutter 3/4 of the way full of brownie mix and cook until brownie is done (for a three inch cookie cutter, check around ten minutes and then again around fifteen if they are still a little gooey).

When you remove the cookie cutters from the oven, you'll notice that the brownie has seeped out the sides of the cookie cutter a little. No problem! We'll get to that.

Before that, though, you'll want to decorate the brownie with your favorite sprinkles when it is still warm. This way, the sprinkles will stick. I liked these holiday sprinkles from Wilton, but Williams-Sonoma also has some incredibly impressive ones. (You might have to win the lotto to buy them though. Just saying.)

Once cool, poke a hole into the top of the brownie for the string to hang it as an ornament. I used a skewer for this, but you could use a straw or thermometer and achieve the same results. Then, very carefully wipe the outside edge of the cookie cutter clean with a damp washcloth or paper towel. The spilled brownie will come right off, leaving a very impressive cookie cutter-brownie combo. Insert a ribbon through the hole you made, and ta-da: Christmas Trifecta achieved. You're so awesome.

Lazy Food: Tastiest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

cookies-baked

Amy: These bad boys are moist and the recipe makes a huge amount. These are a great, simple, happy addition to any cookie plate or baked goods exchange. And since they are tried and true, you won't end up with cookie disaster on your hands instead of cookie perfection.

Less Lazy Food: S'mores Truffles and S'mores Cookies

smores cookies for the cookie exchange

Raleigh: I like any recipe that can be used twice. This recipe is exactly that. At once truffle and cookie, this ooey, gooey melted s'mores recipe is easy and can be turned out either as truffles (perfect to box) or cookies, cut from a log and gorgeous when wrapped up. Both taste delicious. (Amy can attest to this as I made her serve as quality control.)

For those of you with the clock ticking, the hands-on process here is about thirty minutes. Total time: About four hours.

Using a glass mixing bowl and a pot of water as a double broiler, mix one bag of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips with four tablespoons of butter. Stir constantly, scraping the sides of the pan with a spatula until the chocolate is fully melted. Cover the glass bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for thirty minutes. Once the chocolate mix has cooled, add in a half cup of chopped walnuts (optional, but delicious) and two cups of mini marshmallows. Stir to blend.

smores truffles - perfect for the cookie exchange!

For s'mores truffles:

Leaving the mixture in the bowl, cover again with plastic wrap and chill for another three hours. Taking tablespoon-size spoonfulls of the mixture, roll into balls on parchment paper. Fill a plate with graham cracker crumbs and roll each truffle into them individually until covered. Eat, wrap, impress friends with truffle-making, ho ho ho.

s'mores cookies are perfect for the cookie exchange!

For s'mores cookies:

Fold out the mixture onto a parchment paper into a line about ten inches long. Roll the mixture into a log using the paper by first taking one side of the parchment paper to cover the mixture while you roll it out. Repeat the process on the other side. The parchment will help give you a nice, even log, and also this way you won't gum up the log along the way.

Once it's fully formed, pour graham cracker crumbs onto the parchment and roll the log onto the crumbs until completely covered. Slice the log so that every cookie is about a quarter of an inch thick. The walnuts cut very easily, and the marshmallows should all be visible as you slice. The overall visual effect is pretty great, and the cookie - being graham, walnut, chocolate, and marshmallow - is heaven.

An equally enticing variation on this is to use colored marshmallows. When sliced, those cookies are called Cathedral Windows and are actually very pretty, too!

 

Tell us: What do you take to the base gift exchange? Have you ever gotten anything really wonderful there?

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