This Christmas, have a little fun inside making holiday treats that look like they should be outside. These Red Cardinal PEEPS® Perching on Snow Covered Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Branches can be packaged up and given as gifts or be served as dessert. This fun food project is brought to you by PEEPS®.
My love of all things PEEPS® continues.
You know how much I love those sugar-coated marshmallows. Over the years, I've shared my story about winning a year's supply of PEEPS® by creating an edible farm diorama. I've also turned cheesecakes into Peeps, made homemade Giant Peeps, and even made Breakfast Pizza Peeps.
Can you tell I'm a fan?
The minute I saw the new red marshmallow chicks I thought they looked like cardinals sitting in the snow.
Their faces, of course, did not have the black mask like a cardinal's, so I got busy figuring out how to add that to them.
Being the eyes on the chick are pretty far back on its head, I knew I needed to cleverly disguise them so I could add new eyes closer to the beak. To do so, I created ear muffs for my birds, because most birds where them in winter, right?
Once I transformed the red PEEPS®into cardinals I gave them a tasty perch to sit on.
I covered pretzel rods in caramel and toffee bits and dipped them in chocolate then attached them to some smaller chocolate-coated dipping pretzels to look like tree branches. Being the birds were already sitting in the snow, the branches needed to be snow-covered too, so I dabbed on some white chocolate snow to complete the winter look.
CANDY CHRISTMAS CARDINALS
Red Cardinal PEEPS®Perching on Snow-Covered Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Branches
Ingredients: (Makes 6)
3 round caramel apple wrappers
6 pretzel rods
1 tablespoon toffee bits
16 ounces melted and tempered milk chocolate or melted light cocoa candy melts*
18 small dipping pretzels (3 ½ inches long by ⅜ inches in diameter)
6 PEEPS® Red Velvet Chicks Dipped in Cream Flavored Fudge
black food coloring marker
12 small snowflake sprinkles
1 ounce melted and tempered white chocolate or melted white candy melts*
*See the Chocolate Making Tips page for detailed information on working with and melting chocolate and confectionery coating/candy melts.
Cut the caramel apple wrappers in half then wrap one piece around each of the 6 pretzel rods.
Press 8-10 toffee bits into the caramel on each pretzel. These will become bumpy knobs on the tree branch.
Dip the pretzel rods in melted chocolate. You can hold onto one end and dip them, allow them to dry then dip the other end. You will add more chocolate later so it doesn't have to look smooth at this point.
Set the chocolate-coated pretzels on a non-stick silicone mat or a piece of parchment paper and allow the chocolate to harden.
Break the dipping pretzels into various sizes for the smaller tree branches then dip them in chocolate.
Once the chocolate has been set, use melted chocolate to attach 4-5 smaller pretzels to each pretzel rod, creating the look of a tree branch. You'll need to hold some of them in place or prop them up with small bowls until the chocolate dries. It's actually easiest to use chocolate that has thickened a bit as your "glue."
Once you have a nice-looking branch, then you can brush more melted chocolate over the entire tree branch creating the effect of bark.
Once the chocolate on the branches has set, use a brush to dab white chocolate over the tops of the chocolate branches, to look like freshly fallen snow.
Next, you'll need to decorate the PEEPS® to look like Cardinals.
Unwrap 6 Red Velvet Chicks Dipped in Cream Flavored Fudge and use a black food coloring marker to draw two eyes closer to the beak. Draw a black mask around the new eyes and beak.
Pour about a tablespoon of the melted chocolate into a small zip-top bag and snip off one tip. Pipe two small dots of chocolate over the newly created eyes. Pipe a lineup over the chick’s head from one of the original eyes to the other. While the chocolate is still wet, attach one snowflake sprinkle on either end of the line, creating earmuffs for the cardinal.
Use melted chocolate to attach one PEEPS® Cardinal to each branch.
You can package these up to give as gifts or set them on serving platters for dessert.
Be sure to check out all my fun Christmas Recipes!