A while back my dear young friend Claire from Claire K Creations emailed asking if I’d participate in her first ever Foodie Secret Santa. I love getting packages and I love to cook and bake so I was in.
I had no idea what to make and as usual, I went off half cocked and didn’t read everything correctly. AND, I didn’t go back and re-read before I started cooking. I had read it, I knew what I was doing. Uhh, no, I didn’t.
I remembered reading that I needed 3 items for 3 other secret santas. That’s not what the deal was at all. I did get the number 3 right for the secret santas but I only needed to make one item. Do you ever make more work for yourself than necessary?
First I made decorated sugar cookies because I love them at Christmas time. These were quite small and the recipe is my favourite. Yes, I was covered in icing and food coloring gel but that’s part of the fun.
Rob, my number one recipe tester ate the first cookie and gave his approval.
I couldn’t have Christmas without some Russian caramels (it’s fudge, really). It’s easy to make – only 3 ingredients and I’m addicted to it.
The winner on the day were the chocolate, coconut and walnut balls. Think Almond Joy but with walnuts. These took a bit of time but they were really easy to make. If you haven’t made all your Christmas goodies yet, give these a try. My only problem was I made the balls with a scoop and I could have made them half the size they were and probably should have remade them.
Why didn’t I? I would have ended up eating all of these because I couldn’t bear to toss them out. So my 3 secret santas got jumbo balls.
- 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk (not one can)
- 1½ teaspoons almond extract
- 8 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
- One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate morsels, melted
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- After the balls have set up, melt the chocolate and shortening until smooth. Dip into the chocolate to coat evenly and lightly. Place onto a parchment or foil lined sheet pan to dry.
- Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/chocolate-coconut-balls-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback
- In a bowl mix together the nuts, condensed milk, almond extract and coconut.
- Using your fingers, form the mixture into balls about ¾-inch round. (make them smaller rather than large like I did - about one bite's worth)
- Place onto baking sheet and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours or in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- After the balls have set, melt the chocolate and shortening in a bowl over slowly simmering water. Stir until smooth.
- Dip into the chocolate to coat evenly and lightly and pull out with a meat fork. Place onto a baking paper or a foil lined baking sheet to dry.
And what did I get? I have no idea who sent this but it was a delightful package of Gingerbread Biscotti and a jar of gingerbread syrup. Yes, you read that right, gingerbread syrup. I was over the moon.
I received my last two gifts today and can I say, “Welcome to Queensland?” It’s 28C/82F and it’s hot and humid but I suspect the packages went through an even hotter place because the chocolate melted together. No worries though, because a knife can cut chocolate mints out of that mass of chocolate and they are delicious!
Finally, from Lisa the Gourmet Wog, I got these candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. I know it’s a secret santa but she posted that she sent these and that they’d gone to Queensland. I’m pretty sure I’m right on this. I tasted that one that fell off the crowd and yum!
Don’t forget to check out the other Foodie Secret Santa gifts over at Claire’s place.
lizzie - strayed from the table says
Maureen! Those choco – coconut balls are all gone, I was waiting for Roy to come home to share my Christmas goodies. However yesterday they became so addictive I could not help myself they are so good. Yes, I am going to give them a go before the family come as I think that they will love them. Instead of almond extract I am going to use some booze of some sort. Thanks for the recipe, I look forward to giving them a go and having heaps more to eat. Thanks too for the pressies, Roy is going to love those caramels and biscuits – he gets back tomorrow.
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day Maureen! Sounds like fun and perhaps your other two are on its way, true!
Yes, sometimes seems like is more work than I actually do! lol Or maybe its the other way around…lol is the silly season!
Tasty looking treats! Can’t wait to try those coconut and walnut balls.
You and the whole family will love them. 🙂
Lisa the Gourmet Wog says
Oh those chocolate walnut balls look amazing Maureen! I’d be pretty stoked with those gingerbread biscotti and syrup too, what a treat!! Hope the postman brings you some amazing goodies today!! xx
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Great balls of coconut! (I’m channeling my inner Jerry Lee Lewis 😉 Those really do look like a terrific recipe. I gotta tell Mrs K R. 😉 I’ve never heard of gingerbread syrup – sounds like a winner!
I hadn’t either and I’m going to eat it ALL on Christmas morning. 🙂
I made today a Brazilian recipe that uses condensed milk and a “surprise” flavoring, but it’s all cooked down to a fudge-y like consistency before being rolled as little balls….
I am curious about the Russian caramels…. they look very very tasty!
A surprise flavoring? You are such a tease, Sally!!
I posted the Russian caramels last year and forgot to link it. http://www.orgasmicchef.com/candy/russian-caramels/
Thank you! But, I will ease your mind, the surprise flavoring is…. is…. is…..
(post coming up on Dec 20th)
I guessed 🙂
Chocolate, coconut and walnuts, Maureen?! Insanely delicious. I would like to reach into the screen and grab one, ok, maybe two or more. 🙂 Since I have you here I would like to wish you Happy Holidays. Shulie
Aww thanks Shulie and same to you and your family.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Wow, Maureen, too yummy! My favourite? Perhaps those beautifully decorated sugar cookies! I’m guessing mine will be under the tree, yes? LOL. Hope you are feeling better, my friend. You’ve been in my thoughts the last few days xox
Today was a really crap day around here. John’s in Victoria telling his mother she has dementia and cannot go back home. Rob is beside himself with worry so I took him out running errands. The battery died and we got this really nifty taxi ride home. 🙂 She’ll be all safely tucked in at the facility up here tomorrow. IF she gets on the plane at all.
I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. When my dad died in 2010, my mom moved in with me and 6 months later she was diagnosed with dementia as well. I wish you the best in keeping her faculties as alert as possible for as long possible.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Lordy, well I am crossing my fingers for you… it would be so nice for you to have a peaceful Christmas.
Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate says
My grandma makes coconut balls very similar to this except they have crushed graham crackers in them (along with condensed milk, chocolate chips, nuts and of course, coconut). Yum!
Those coconut balls sound pretty good, Mallory, do you have a recipe? Same one add graham crackers? Can you believe they don’t sell them here? I have to buy them from the expensive import store.
What a lovely idea for this time of year. Australia and chocolate are a bit dicey when they have to go through the mail, I see, but even a bit melted they don’t look bad and I bet they tasted wonderful. Chocolate and mint are one of my (many) favourites. 🙂
Everything was fantastic! Yes, it looked funny but it tasted SO good.
What a fun idea! And I LOVE the coconut/nut/chocolate combo. These would disappear quickly in my house…
They disappeared pretty quickly at our place too. My husband loved them. Thanks heaps for coming by and hope you have wonderful holidays.
Kyrstie@ A Fresh Legacy says
Those balls look gorgeous and I love the look of those Russian caramels. I hope that you post that recipe soon too 🙂
Sorry, Kyrstie, I already did! I just fixed the post to link to it. http://www.orgasmicchef.com/candy/russian-caramels/
@ChristineSalins (FoodWineTravel) says
What a fun exercise to take part in Maureen. The Chocolate Coconut & Walnut Balls sounds deliciously easy but I REALLY love Russian caramel.
Oh Christine, me too. I can’t leave it alone so I can only make it when I have to give it away. 🙂 Have a very happy Christmas!
erin @ she cooks, she gardens says
OMG, Maureen. I am really sorry about my totally daft present. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been dreading the arrival of those darn packages – I woke up last night at 2am worrying about how they’d fare. Next year I’m going with a spice rub!!
ps – thanks for your gorgeous package, I am so impressed with your cookie decorating skills!
Oh Erin, you cutie you. If you could see 93 year old Rob and I fighting over the “chocolate turd” you’d wet yourself. It cuts beautifully and it looks like marbled candy. I think you’re on to something here! 🙂
How did mine arrive? I’ve been sweating those coconut balls. 🙂
erin @ she cooks, she gardens says
Chocolate turd! That is the best, I am relieved to hear that my epic fail brought you guys joy. 🙂
And yep, your big balls were awesome (oh my!).
OMG you are so funny. I just read your blog post and cracked up. We SERIOUSLY needed a bit of levity on Monday.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
What a great swapping idea! And I’m sure your recipients won’t have minded giant chocolate, coconut and walnut balls at all (I nearly wrote giant balls, but thought that sounded way too wrong so went for the full title…but now I’ve said it anyway…oh well 😉 ).
I’ve used big balls all day long. LOL I had a great time with this swap.
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Maureen really that was not breaking the rules at all you just went above and beyond. All your goodies look wonderful!
I got the gingerbread package too. They disappeared really really fast. I think the syrup would be wonderful blended in a batch of your ice-cream.
I was going to use it on Christmas morning but holy cow drizzled through ice cream sounds almost sinful. 🙂
Very nice and festive, perfect for this season and also as a giveaway
I had a lot of fun with this!
Angela Montgomery says
What a lovely idea for Christmas, beautiful goodies, and all so beautifully packaged.
BTW, your blog is gorgeous too!
Hi Angela, thanks so much for visiting and especially for leaving a comment. I hope you have a lovely Christmas.
Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com says
Oh wow – Your secret santas are sure lucky! These balls sound amazing!
Thanks so much – that’s really kind of you.
Katy Potaty says
Oh, Maureen – I *knew* the sugar cookies were from you, nobody else would’ve had the patience for such gorgeous detailing!
My husband said he was bummed not to get to introduce himself properly to my Secret Santa… do you live very local?
Katy! It was supposed to be secret! I LOVE your new home – what I could see from the street and the garage. 🙂
I live in Minyama off Nicklin Way. My 93 year old father-in-law is with us and I got Lizzie’s name too so we went for a road trip. I’d only ever been through Bli Bli – it’s a nifty place.
We should get together for lunch one day soon. If you’d like to. 🙂
Gintare @Gourmantine says
Such a sweet and lovely idea to swap gifts, how I’d love to find those coconut walnuts balls in my post.. (sigh…) 🙂
Wow, that is such a lovely treat.
The coconut and in it sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try em’.
You will bow down before me in gratitude. (maybe) LOL
I new from the title of this post I loved these wonderful chocolate bon-bons. However, it is the Russian caramels that has me about to swoon.
Mary Frances says
Maureen – your sugar cookies are beautiful!! I no longer have the patience for icing so I just use different colored sugars. I’ll be doing that this weekend. You look like you’re all ready for the holidays!!
Actually, I have a confession. I found a really easy recipe and those cookies were painted with a paintbrush all but the gingerbread looking men and next time I would do that too.
Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
They all look so yummy. The Christmas cookies are especially cute!
Aww, thanks Mireya!
Woot! I thought this was going to be like the date-nut-vegan treats I always make. Love that it uses sweetened condense milk (which I have at home right now…)
Oh Hannah – from me? You are the one who does those magnificent healthy things. I’m going to hell in a dietary handbasket. 🙂
Hotly Spiced says
I wish you’d been my Santa! Your cookies are gorgeous – aren’t you talented with a cookie cutter and a gel pen! And I love the sound of your Russian fudge – only three ingredients? And those balls look like an excellent hostess gift. I was given something with chocolate too and it was a melted mess when I received it. I put the bag straight into the fridge and all is now good if a little untidy looking! xx
InTolerant Chef says
What a fun idea Maureen, the gingerbread syrup sounds gorgeous
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Such a great idea and I wish I could have participated but I am overseas. Will be back for Christmas though! Love the sound of jumbo balls 🙂
It’s been great to see the Secret Santas pop up on Facebook and instagram and wonder who sent what. Love your balls Maureen – perfect with a cuppa in the afternoon.
suzanne Perazzini says
I have just been going around my favourite Aussie food blogs and have been seeing this trail of secret Santa presents all over the place. It has been interesting putting all the puzzle pieces together. I haven’t discovered who is making gingerbread syrup yet though.
Me either! I have no idea who it’s from. Hopefully I’ll know by tomorrow and get the recipes. Hope you have a lovely holiday, Suzanne.
Are those orange peels can be eaten together with the chocolate? or you just lick the chocolates out of it? I didn’t know this exists.. sorry for my ignorance. -_-
but it does look good.
Yes, the orange peels are taken off the oranges and cooked in a sugar syrup and they magically turn into orange flavoured candy. Once they’re dry(ish) they’re dipped in chocolate. You eat them like a lolly. 🙂
I think I should move to Aussie land, as we don’thave any secret Santa here :-(.. would love to bake and received baked goodies! Those iced cookies look pretty, Maureen..and now I am inspired to do the gingerbread biscotti..yum!
I want to make that too instead of just eat it. 🙂 Lovely to see you, Jehanne!
I think Foodie Secret Santa is a great idea, Maureen. I’m sure the recipients are going to love your gifts, especially th chocolate balls. You had me with the “Think Almond Joy…” That’s all I needed to read. 🙂
Honestly, they’re delicious.
David Crichton says
I hope my stocking is filled with some delights like these.
I hope so too, David!
Wow, you went ALL out…I’m certain your lucky recipients didn’t mind the extra treats! I MUST try your coconut balls 🙂
You’ll be proud of your balls. 🙂
Norma Chang says
Love your cookie jar in the first photo. Your Chocolate, Coconut and Walnut Balls would not last long in my house.
Chocolate, coconut and walnut.. somehow you’ve managed to roll all my weakness into one ball. Damn it! 😉 Sounds delicious Maureen, good one! Happy Christmas!
All the right things in one little ball! I say this is orgasmic! Your gifts look delicious too:) ela
Aww, thanks so much!
Abbe@This is How I Cook says
You are so ready for Christmas! Love these gifts and those balls. I could put all of these away-fast! Gingerbread syrup-I think you best get that recipe, pronto! Thanks, maureen!
I know.. I’ll go look and see if I can find it.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
You did a terrific job with all three gifts and I know everyone had to throughly enjoy them. I love the combination of coconut and chocolate so I know I would love your delicious balls…they sound better than Almond Joys. So sorry to hear about John’s mother…that has to be so hard for all of you.
We’re certainly not the first family to go through this but it’s a lot more difficult than I expected. Walking away from someone you love who’s in distress is not easy. I think I need a cookie. 🙂
Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures says
What a fun idea! This candly looks amazing! The russian caramel looks wonderful too!
I can’t decide which is my favorite.
Bam's Kitchen says
Cookie exchanges are always such fun! I love your little chocolate coconut balls. I am sure these would be a nice addition to my cookie tray. I love all the detail work on your iced sugar cookies, they almost too pretty to eat. Take care, BAM
Oh we ate them all right!
Oh boy, do those chocolate coconut walnut balls look fabulous! Pretty, festive and wow scrumptious yes indeed! These are the kind of thing I am afraid of making because I can envision just how many of them I would eat myself. But perfect for a holiday gift! Bookmarked! I love the Christmas cookies, too, and reminds me that I should make some! Fun fun the whole Secret Santa thing (and too funny about the chocolate melting in the post).
Exactly why I don’t make these goodies unless I’m giving them away. 🙂
JJ - 84thand3rd says
I was wondering who had made all those treats – too funny but what lucky recipients you had! So glad you enjoyed the Gingerbread goodies – merry Christmas!
Dear Maureen, What a nice idea. Your sugar cookies look like perfection!! I always feel bad eating these beautiful cookies. I know they are like little works of art.
The fudge must be great and almond joys, well I love them!!
p.s. I usually do things like that, I read and think I know what I am doing until I read it again and say, “huh?”
Well, you certainly made delicious treats for Christmas.
Blessings dear. Catherine xo
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
These look addictive in the best possible way!
Now these are some fabulous balls… 🙂 Okay, I had to get that one in. I love all ingredients you have in these.. I know they were yummy. 🙂
Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice says
Your cookies look great, and the chocolate, coconut, and walnut balls sound like such a treat. The gingerbread syrup sounds divine!