Friday, December 7, 2012

At Home: Drunken Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Bars

The holidays to me mean great food, drinks, and family.  Missing a few key ingredients for cookies, I came up with a modified version and thought these Drunken Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Bars were festive and appropriate for the holiday season. I made these bars for Thanksgiving and they were a hit with the adults. The smaller pieces were the perfect little chewy bite of sweetness after the large holiday meal. Check out my latest baking experiment on What Micky Eats...At Home.

Drunken Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Bars (Makes 24 bars)
  • ½ cup butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teasp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teasp salt, optional
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp Grand Marnier
- In a small bowl, cover the dried cranberries with the Grand Marnier and set aside about 30 minutes to allow the liquor to rehydrate the cranberries.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 60 seconds.
- To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and stir to combine.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and stir to combine.
- Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix or the blondies will be tough.
- Fold in chocolate chips, cranberries, and pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
- Bake for 27 to 32 minutes, or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan and center is set.
- Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars and serving.
- Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

I also love the combination of chocolate and dried fruit.  The bars are easy and adaptable for substitutions and variations. Try other fruit combinations like cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches; fresh or frozen (if using frozen fruit, don’t bother thawing; stir it in frozen or it will “bleed” into the batter; baking time is not noticeably effected using frozen fruit). Baking time will vary based on types of fruit used, fresh, frozen, and the moisture content of the fruit; and how gooey you like your bars. A toothpick inserted into the middle may not come out clean due to the chocolate chips or juicy fruit.  Also try M&Ms, white chocolate chips, toffee bits, coconut flakes, or macadamia nuts.

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