Homemade Holiday Gifts – Cranberry Almond Bark and White Chocolate Popcorn

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by Amy Flanigan on December 14, 2009 · 21 comments

Here we are. December. Holiday time. Gift giving time. Spending money time…unless you’re on unemployment (ahem.)

All right. So, maybe you have a job (way to go!), but you’re being very frugal with your money this year. Or maybe you have gobs of money (way to go!), but you still prefer to give homemade gifts. Something that says, “Hey, I actually took the time to make you something. See how much I love you?”

Look no further. Have I got two yummy ideas for you to wrap up. And they’re so easy and inexpensive, you could make a batch for yourself, too. Minus the bow.

Cranberry Almond Bark

You’re familiar with this treat, right? You see it in the Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel catalogs every year. Your local market probably sells it. Well, I just discovered how simple it is to make at home. (I know, I’m slow.) Added perk: you can create different dried fruit and nut combinations to suit the recipient’s likes.

If you don’t have any family or friends who like chocolate, than figuring out what to give as Christmas gifts is the least of your worries.

White Chocolate Popcorn with Cranberries and Sliced Almonds

Early childhood memory: my Dad attempting to make popcorn. Result? We sat in the living room and watched the reflection of flames on the refrigerator.

I love popcorn. Air popped or made in oil. Plain or saturated in butter. Big ‘ol tub resting in my lap, while I witness a train wreck of a movie. True.

I think most people either really like popcorn, or they don’t. There’s no in between. However, for those who don’t – melt some white chocolate over those kernels, and they might change their mind.

Notice both these creations include dried cranberries. Coincidence? Not really. That 48 ounce bag from Costco, I bought for Thanksgiving, isn’t going to stay fresh forever.

Print the recipe for the White Chocolate Popcorn (adapted from Healthy Cooking)

Cranberry Almond Bark
Makes 1 pound
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

• 8 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate, chopped
• 3 squares (1 ounce each) semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 cup whole, raw, unsalted almonds
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.

Place white chocolate in a small bowl and melt in the microwave for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10-20 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Place semisweet chocolate in a separate bowl and repeat process.

Stir cranberries and almonds into the white chocolate. Spread onto the lined baking sheet (the more you spread it out, the thiner the bark will be. I spread mine until it reached about an 8×11 in size.)

Drizzle the semisweet chocolate over the white chocolate and cut through with a knife in a swirling motion.

Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes (or longer) until set. Break into pieces. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

(adapted from Taste of Home)

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam December 16, 2010 at 10:41 am

My mom and I made Almond Bark last week, but our recipe called for salt for a Sweet and Salty taste (which I am addicted to). I think there are two small chunks left and a bowl full of chocolate shards.


Crustabakes December 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I wish i were a recipient of these delights! THey look delicious!


DebinHawaii January 2, 2010 at 2:02 am

Both of these look amazing. I love the bark especially which looks truly stunning.


daphne December 24, 2009 at 11:21 am

What great amazing ideas. I can do with both.. will keep them in mind for next year! Merry Christmas to you and family. Here is to another great year of blogging.


Dani December 17, 2009 at 1:29 am

The cranberry almond bark is so much more creative than peppermint bark. Definitely want to try this recipe! Adding the white chocolate, cranberries and almonds to the popcorn is about as gourmet as popcorn can get. Fabulous gift! Thanks so much for the recipes, Amy. Happy, happy holidays.


Natalie December 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm

That cranberry almond bark is just beautiful! It looks so delicious and like it has the best of all worlds. Creamy, crunchy, tangy, salty. I love how it almost looks like ‘wood grain’.


Jamie December 15, 2009 at 8:28 am

These both look great!


Kim December 15, 2009 at 7:07 am

I’ve never made flavored or mixed popcorn, and I can’t imagine why not. This looks wonderful! I’ve been eying a big bag of cranberries at the warehouse myself and I’m thinking I need to make the purchase.

And I love chocolate bark, it’s so much fun to mix in new flavors. I have sworn off sugar for a few more days until my soul just cannot take it anymore and then I’m diving into the stuff with wild abandon for the next two weeks. Bark beware!


Amy December 14, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Helen – I’m actually making these for my daughter’s preschool teacher!

Lauren & Cheryl – hi ladies…thanks for stopping by!

Mom – Oh yea!! I’m not kidding when I say something is easy, but it’s always nice when it’s validated by someone else. The praline Crunch Bars? Oh my…you’re in trouble with those. ADDICTING.


Mom December 14, 2009 at 8:17 pm

I couldn’t believe my success with this recipe because I never make candy. It was as easy as it looks. The chocolate wasn’t spread perfectly evenly but added character to the cut pieces.
This will certainly be a winner in the “putting on pounds just looking at it” category. Tomorrow I try Amy’s Praline Crunch Bars.


Cheryl December 14, 2009 at 5:22 pm

What a great idea I am making both of these!


Lauren December 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Both of these treats look delicious! I love the combination of chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts. I have a feeling both the bark and the popcorn will be made in my kitchen… and to be honest, they probably won’t be leaving ;).


Helen December 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Love love love this! I was just talking to a friend the other day about possible homemade treats to give to my kid’s teachers. HOW PERFECT. Thank you, Amy!


Amy December 14, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Mom – I used a standard cookie sheet (I think 10×15?), but that’s not really relevant, since you don’t spread the chocolate to the edges. If you did that, it would be way too thin, once you break it into pieces. You’ll basically end up with a slab about 8×11.

I found the white baking chocolate right next to the dark chocolate. If your store doesn’t carry it, you could probably use a cup of the white baking chips, which I believe are made out of the same thing.


Jude December 14, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Mmm! I’m craving that bark. There’s sweet. There’s salty. AND there’s a fruit? All the food groups are covered.


Dad December 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

In my defense, in your childhood, popcorn could only be made by putting a fire under oil, and you’ll have to admit that the resulting blaze augmented the candles you were using to do your homework.

Bark looks great and with almonds and chocolate, now I can break out in multiple ways, but still worth it.


Mike December 14, 2009 at 8:50 am

That cranberry bark looks yummy!


Mom December 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

The Cherry Almond Bark looks great for a homemade gift I need for Thursday. What size baking sheet did you use, and where did you find white baking chocolate? Hopefully, mine will come out as good as yours looks.


Natasha - 5 Star Foodie December 14, 2009 at 9:17 am

Two excellent ideas! And I love that both of these treats have almonds!


Natashya December 14, 2009 at 9:05 am

Great gift ideas! I am a popcorn lover. I have a little machine that does it in oil. I don’t care for the air popped kind. Too dry for my tastes.
Your bark and holiday popcorn are amazing!


Joanne December 14, 2009 at 6:59 am

Yes so having a family in which no one likes chocolate would be ridiculous. I think you would have to send all of them for genetic testing. But something would obviously have gone terribly terribly wrong. The bark looks delicious. I’ve never made it myself. But now I know I need to.

Gotta love Costco. I have some seriously large bags of flour, sugar, and pecans sitting on my shelf. Good stuff.


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