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