Holiday Baking – White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan Bars

The windows are slightly foggy in the corners and the house is filled with the redolent smells of baking chocolate, toasted coconut, and warm pecans.  Right now, there might not be anything more tempting.  All the while outside, the wind howls and the snow pelts the side of the house.  Occasionally, a large mound of snow will slide off the roof to announce itself and inside, we are warm and cozy, baking one of our many holiday gifts.  Later, when the wind dies down, I’ll go for a snow shoe in the field out back.  If it’s really late, I’ll cross my fingers the sky is clear and the moon lights the way.  Moments like these have me feeling grateful for family, warmth, small houses, little things, rosy cheeks, and Maine winters.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan, and Coconut Bars Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pecan Bars
We also called these Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Bars.  They first appeared in At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer and this is a riff on that original recipe.

Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for the pan)
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Topping
6 ounces shaved white chocolate or white chocolate chips; about 1 1/4 cup
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Crust
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread the coconut in a 9- x 13-inch pan and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring two or three times. In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and toasted coconut. Lightly butter the 9- x 13-inch pan and then transfer the mixture, pressing firmly with your hands to pack evenly. Turn the oven temperature up to 325°F. Chill the pan for 15 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden.

Topping
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate, cranberries, and pecans over the crust. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the center begins to bubble just slightly.

Let cool on a wire rack and cut into 12 or 24 even pieces.

Makes 12 or 24 bars

Annie
P.S. Cookbooks make a wonderful holiday gift.  Just saying.

Apricot Orange Pound Cake – Holiday Baking

Wondering what to bake for the mail man and your kids’ teachers?  This pound cake, filled with the fragrant, fruity flavors of apricot and orange could be just the thing.

While the apricot and orange extracts might not be readily on hand in your pantry, they make all the difference. I’ve seen them at my local grocery store and have also had some happy luck on Olive Nation with some seriously delicious extracts that have kept my creative baking spirit happy all summer long on the boat.

This recipe was given to me by an exceptional family that sailed with us several years ago. They own a bakery in Amish country and the original recipe is one of their top sellers.  I’ve, of course, changed some of the extracts, due in large part to running out rather than because the recipe needed a single tweak.  Thank you Beiler family for your gift of the original recipe.

Apricot Orange Poundcake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Apricot Orange Pound Cake
If you end up doubling the recipe, then use five eggs instead of four.  I’ve found the recipe works just a wee bit better.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one, 9 x 5 inch, loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a sifter.  Measure the milk and add the extracts.  Sift half of the flour mixture and add half of the milk mixture to the butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.  Repeat and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes clean.

Glaze:
Bring all the glaze ingredients to a boil; pour it over the cake just as it comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool a bit before removing it from the pan.

Serves 8

Annie