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Fudgy combinations make for perfect holiday treats

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Whether alone or in combination, chocolate and peanut butter are two of the most popular baking ingredients.

Many prefer the good old traditional dark chocolate while others are turning to the newer white chocolate versions.

Whatever the choice, peanut butter paired with either is outstanding.

With Christmas fast approaching, baking time is at a minimum. The four easy recipes featured this week can be prepared in less than two hours time and require no baking.

The first is a copycat of the Reese's peanut butter cup, made with a one-step, creamy dough topped with chocolate chips. I like the contrast of the semi-sweet chips so I use them in the recipe, but you can use any flavor you prefer. The same applies to the peanut butter, creamy or crunchy, both work nicely.

The second recipe is a Salted Nut Roll Bar that requires no baking. I use the microwave to melt my ingredients together, so this recipe requires just a few minutes to assemble.

The last two are equally as simple, the Nut Goody Bars go together in a breeze, and the Foolproof Chocolate Fudge is just what its name implies, without any extra effort at all and lots and lots of rich chocolate flavor.

All of these freeze nicely. In fact, I keep them in the freezer and take out what I need as family or guests visit.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy baking!

Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. butter

1 bag chocolate chips

Mix the first four ingredients over a low heat. I used the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval until everything is mixed together. One minute may be enough.

Take little pieces of the dough and place them into petit four cupcake papers.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and using a spoon drop as much as you'd like on top of the peanut butter. Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens. Then store in the fridge or freezer.

Salted Nut Roll Bars

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 stick margarine

2 cups mini marshmallows

16 oz. dry roasted peanuts

12 oz. peanut butter chips

Line a 9x13 pan with 8 oz. peanuts, melt and mix sweetened condensed milk, butter and peanut butter chips. Add the marshmallows and pour mixture over peanuts. Add remaining nuts, press gently, and refrigerate to set.

Nut Goody Bars

1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips

1 (6 ounce) package butterscotch chips

1/4 cup margarine

Melt in the microwave, stirring until creamy and smooth.

Add: 1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup Spanish peanuts

1 package miniature marshmallows

Mix well. Press into 13x9 inch pan. Chill and cut into squares. Refrigerate or freeze.

Foolproof Fudge

3 (6 ounce) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Dash salt

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

In heavy saucepan, over low heat, heat chips with sweetened condensed milk. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Spread evenly into a wax paper-lined 8 inch square pan. Chill 2 to 3 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off paper and cut into squares. Store loosely covered in refrigerator or freeze.