As I dipped and decorated these Chocolate Covered Leap-rechauns and Pots of Gold for my most recent St. Patrick’s Day military care package, I was amazed to discover that this is the 30th military care package shared on The Monday Box! Hopefully, that equals a lot of smiles due to sweet treats from home.
I started supporting “adopted” troops exactly three years ago. At first, I sent boxes to a family friend deployed in Afghanistan. When his deployment ended, he found another troop on the same base who wanted Monday Box care packages. By the time my second soldier’s deployment ended, I was hooked on sending military care packages. It feels wonderful knowing that I am making a real difference to someone’s morale and happiness. I get to bake, shop, and get a bit crafty. My troops get a taste of home, a few smiles, and my thanks and gratitude for their service.
In order to continue supporting deployed military personnel, I became a proud member of Soldier’s Angels in January of 2016. Through the Soldier’s Angels data base of troops who have signed up to participate in the program, I adopt one individual at a time, and pledge to mail a minimum of one letter a week and one care package per month for the length of their deployment. In the past 15 months, I have had the honor of supporting 6 service members, 3 men and 3 women. I highly recommend Soldiers Angels to anyone interested in supporting our troops. Care packages are just one of the many opportunities they offer.
I’ve decided to make a small change to the frequency of my military care package posts on The Monday Box. I’ve been sharing military care package posts monthly, in the hopes that my themed boxes and recipes will be helpful to anyone sending care packages. The same themes I use for military care packages can be used for packages sent to college students, missionaries, or a friend needing a smile. Going forward, I will continue to post new military care package ideas, but have decided that documenting every box I send isn’t necessary. With the current 30 military care package posts detailing the recipes, decorations, and contents for each themed package, there are already lots of ideas for Monday Box readers to choose from. In addition, there are 42 recipes that qualify as “desert safe” for hot weather care packages. My new posting plan offers several advantages. Instead of needing to create new recipes for my military care packages every month , I will be able to occasionally reuse some of my old recipes that were well received in prior packages. By cutting back on military care package posts (and the recipe development that goes with them) I will be able to share more general care package recipes. I hope this little change will provide useful content for all Monday Box readers.
Part 1 Care Package Contents: A chance find at a Hallmark store inspired the Leap-rechaun Frog theme of this Saint Patrick’s Day care package. The small keepsake ornament, with a Leap-rechaun sitting on a cupcake, was an excellent start to this care package! The box flaps are covered in green sticky paper sold as rolls of removable book covers, held extra-firmly in place with green duct tape. I added some lucky leap-rechaun clip art and messages letting my new adoptee, Airman B., know that I feel “lucky to know him”.
The contents are a mixture of goodies in green packaging and a variety of frog items. For sweet treats there are Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and lots of candy. The frog items in the box include the Hallmark Leap-rechaun ornament, a puzzle, a stuffed toy, wind chimes, and a game. Saint Patrick’s Day garland and wall décor ensure lucky, green cheer.
Part 2 Decorated Circle Cookies: Chocolate Covered Leap-rechauns and Pots of Gold are easy to create. There is no baking involved and the designs are super simple. It’s the sprinkles and sparkling sugar that turn these chocolate sandwich cookies into a Saint Patrick’s Day stand out.
To make 18 Leap-rechauns, I used 18 chocolate-mint sandwich cookies (Newman-O’s brand with Fair Trade ingredients), 2 ½- 3 cups of white chocolate melts (I use Chocoley.com white dipping and coating formula), green oil based candy coloring, 36 candy eyes, and 36 pink oval sprinkles (from an Easter egg sprinkle assortment).
In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate at 50% power in the microwave. Add the green candy coloring and stir until the color is uniform. Dip and coat the cookies and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Add eyes to each cookie immediately after dipping. After coating 6 cookies, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Place the left-over green chocolate into a small zip lock bag. Cut off a tiny piece of a bottom corner of the bag and pipe smiles onto each frog. Add dots of the green chocolate as “glue” to attach the pink sprinkle cheeks. Allow the chocolate details to firm before packaging.
To make 18 Pots of Gold, I used 18 chocolate-mint sandwich cookies (Newman-O’s with Fair Trade ingredients), 3 cups of dark chocolate melts*** (Bada Bing Bada Boom dark candy and molding formula), 90 sprinkle coins from Wilton’s St. Patrick’s sprinkle mix, gold large crystal decorating sugar.
In a small bowl, melt the dark chocolate at 50% power in the microwave. Dip and coat the cookies and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. After coating 6 cookies, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Place the left-over chocolate into a small zip lock bag. Cut off a small piece of a bottom corner of the bag. Working with one cookie at a time, pipe a circle of chocolate onto the top of a cookie. Cover the circle with sparkling sugar and gold coins. If the gold coins won’t stick, use a toothpick to add a small dot of melted chocolate to “glue” the coins in place. Allow the chocolate to firm before packaging.
Once the chocolate was set, I wrapped the Chocolate Covered Leap-rechauns and Pots of Gold cookies individually in small plastic bags. The wrapped cookies were placed in a large freezer weight zip lock bag for shipping.
***I wanted the Pots of Gold to be black and tried using oil based black candy coloring. The amount of coloring that could be used without effecting the taste of the chocolate didn’t change the color. For the best chocolate flavor, I recommend skipping the candy coloring and using a dark colored chocolate.
Part 3 Other Recipes for a Saint Patrick’s Day Theme:
I was beyond delighted to get a message from Airman B. after this care package arrived! He said this was “hands down the best care package” he had ever received, and that the cookies were gone within 2 days! I consider that to be mission accomplished as well as an enthusiastic endorsement for Chocolate Covered Leap-rechauns and Pots of Gold! It is highly likely you will get the same reaction when you make and share some.
Wishing everyone a fun St. Patrick’s Day celebration. May the “luck of the Irish” smile upon you!