Sometimes a homemade treat is the perfect gift to give. Gifting a little treat can allow you to thoughtfully acknowledge someone without giving more stuff (or spending a lot of money). At this time of year my family has come to expect that I have put some of their favorite cookies under the tree. I have also started a tradition of giving edible gifts to my colleagues at the office. You can be as creative as you like in the packaging (see Michelle’s post for a couple of ideas). No matter how you wrap them, chances are people will be pleased just to get inside to the goodies! Here are three easy ideas for homemade treats for gifting.

1. I am a big fan of giving roasted and flavored nuts. There comes a point in this season when even I have had too much that is sweet. Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts are a savory (or salty-sweet) snack that feel festive. They are a favorite of my mother-in-law. These nuts packaged in a nice bowl would make a great hostess gift.

2. Shauna Sever, The Next Door Baker, has a great post about variations on chocolate bark. Sure you can follow one of the many recipes published at this time of year, but why not customize a bark to meet your taste? This season I am hoping to make some that incorporates the new dried coconut strips I found at Trader Joe’s.

3.Finally, I include the treat I gifted my fellow bloggers with when we had our holiday brunch. This is a variation of a recipe from Paula Deen for Gooey Butter Cake. One of her first cookbooks, The Lady & Sons Just Desserts, includes the original version and a series of variations. For this recipe, I have combined two variations and then added my own holiday twist. For some reason, I never remember the original name for these bars, so I’ve always called them Ooey Gooey Squares. Here I introduce to you my Peppermint Bark Ooey Gooey Squares.

Peppermint Bark Ooey Gooeys 2

ready for gifting

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peppermint Bark Ooey Gooey Squares
Recipe type: holiday dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
This is my holiday variation on Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake. These are rich and delicious with just the right balance of chocolate, cream cheese, and peppermint. They would make a great gift.
For the cake:
  • 1 package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 16-ounce box powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces of coarsely chopped peppermint bark*
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. The batter will be a bit stiff.
  3. Using a spatula spread the mixture evenly into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  4. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.
  6. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  7. Stir in ⅔ of the peppermint bark.
  8. Spread the filling evenly over the cake batter.
  9. Sprinkle the rest of the peppermint bark over the batter.
  10. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. You won’t want to overbake this so use your judgment as to when to remove from the oven. The filling should be golden, but the center should be a little wobbly and gooey.
  11. Cut into small pieces. This is rich!
* I used two Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Baking Bars, but feel free to use your own favorite. Trader Joe's has new peppermint bark pieces, that I am tempted to try using as well.

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Follow the MyUntangled Holidays Board on Pinterest for more inspiration.

Get to know Kathleen MacArthur (78 Posts)

Kat has enjoyed baking and cooking for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother, Rita, was a great baker—especially of pies. Inspired by Rita, Kat began to be the one to bring dessert to family events. (Her grandfather, Stu, used to say that “Kat is bringing dessert” were some of his favorite words.) Often her family will hide the Christmas cookies she gives them when they have guests in the house. Her husband is a great tester of Kat Treats. When Kat is not baking or blogging, she works in higher education (but secretly dreams that some day she might open a treat truck or bakery/bookstore).