You know, ever since I was a child, this has been my favorite time of year. And twenty-five years later, here I am, sitting on my couch, wearing slippers watching The Polar Express. Some things never change. But when I was a child, it was Christmas lists. It was toys. It was reindeer. And, sadly, while I still hope every year that Santa will squeeze his way into my tiny apartment in Boston, my priorities have since changed... sort of.
This time of year, really, should be special. It should be cherished. We should give a little more and take a little less. We should be gracious and kind. And I get that. And I am happy to do that. But I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The first time I hear Carol of the Bells, my heart starts to flutter. A house lit up with bright lights makes me feel giddy. And baking holiday treats for people I love, well, it goes without saying, it makes me soar.
The first treat this year? Well, I'm glad you asked. Cranberry Bliss Bars. And more than eating them yourself, you might like spreading a little joy around you. Or then again, you might not let them cool completely and eat them out of the pan. Your call. Secret's safe with me. But whatever the case, you won't be disappointed.
Cranberry Bliss Bars
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 (12 ounce) can ready-made vanilla -or- cream cheese frosting (Feel free to make homemade, but I was running out of time so used store bought)
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining it with parchment paper for easy removal.
2. Melt butter and then cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, blend butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add all other ingredients except white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Once the mixture is almost fully incorporated, add 1/2 cup chips and 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
3. Batter will be thick. Spread into a 9x13 pan and bake 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Allow to cool thoroughly.
4. When cool, frost and top with remaining cranberries, chocolate chips and pistachios.