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Dec 14

Christmas Cookies and Penguins

The First LibraryOur public library has so many great programs for the kids, as well as for teens and adults, and we just love to participate as often as possible. There are weekly art and craft classes for school age kids, pre-school story hours for moms and little ones, movie nights for all ages, and various special programs throughout the year. This summer the girls and I went to a program on Anne Frank. The speaker was a school teacher who had traveled to Anne’s home which is now a museum, as well as visiting the camps where Anne’s family was imprisoned during WWII.

Last night we went to a craft class where the girls made these cute penguin Christmas ornaments out of painted light bulbs! Now that I’ve seen them, of course I can think of lots of other uses for painted light bulbs ;o) such as angel ornaments, snowman ornaments, or even Santa Claus ornaments. We had great fun making our little penguins, and then there was the annual Christmas Cookie Charisma, which is a contest of sorts, where all of the entrants bring in their favorite holiday cookies and a panel of four judges decide which ones are the best.

We made up a batch of French Chocolate Mint Bars, which I’ve been making for many years. One of the other ladies at the library said to me, “Oh! French Mint Bars! Is that recipe from . . . . . hmmmmm . . . . the Favorite Holiday Recipes cookbook from 1972?”  Well, gee, I’m not sure, but I said, “Probably! I’ve had it about that long!” So, who knows where it originally came from, but I got it from Aunt Louise way back in the day when I was just a young wife, looking for some special treats to make for Christmas.

It is really quite easy to make, looks beautiful, and these chocolatey mint bars are yummy! Even if you don’t like a lot of chocolate, the mint layer and the dark chocolate keep it all from being way too sweet, with just the right combination of flavors. If you’ve never made French Chocolate Mint Bars, give it a try! Here’s the recipe:

French Chocolate Mint Bars

What you need:

For the cookie base
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
1-1/4 cup Hershey’s syrup (regular or Special Dark)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the mint layer
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
several drops of green food coloring

For the chocolate topping
1/2 cup butter
1 lb. chocolate chips

Let’s make it!   Mix the cookie base ingredients and press into a 15″x10″x1″ cookie sheet. Bake at 350�F for 20 minutes or until done. Chill completely.

While the cookies are cooling, mix the ingredients for the mint layer.

Spread mint layer over the bars and refrigerate until firm.

Melt together the butter and chocolate chips for the topping. Spread evenly over the green layer.

Refrigerate until chocolate firms. Cut into bars.

Makes: 2 dozen bars

Even though the holidays can be a time of extra stress and anxiety, especially for parents, we’re trying to focus on the fun stuff, keep things simple and frugal, and really enjoy Christmas with our girls. I wish you all the best for you and your family, and pray that God will bless you with a joyful Christmas celebration!    ~~ Nina

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