CRANBERRY VODKA

Some of the best recipes of the Christmas season are those that double as gifts, like this homemade cranberry infused vodka.

CRANBERRY VODKA

1 cup FRESH cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 large strip of orange peel
2 cups QUALITY vodka (Absolut is best)

  • Place the cranberries, sugar and pineapple juice in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved, the cranberries pop and the pineapple juice is absorbed. 
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
  • Transfer the mixture into a large mason jar.
  • Place the orange peel in the mason jar, and pour the vodka over top.
  • Screw the lid on tightly and set the jar on a counter at room temperature for at least 3 days, and up to a month.
  • Shake once a day.
  • Strain into a decorative bottle, tie with festive ribbon and gift with a cocktail recipe in which to use it.

SNICKERS BROWNIES

SNICKERS BAR BROWNIES

A YUMMY and SUPER DELICIOUS fudgy brownie base with a layer of caramel, nougat and peanuts throughout that tastes exactly like a Classic Snickers Bar.

1 Box Supreme Triple Chunk Brownie Mix, or flavor of choice
1 – 11 ounce bag Kraft caramel balls
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cashews, chopped
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 – 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1/4 cup c
reamy Peanut Butter
1 – 16 ounce package milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 classic Snickers bars, chopped into small chunks

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare the brownie mix as per the package instructions.
  • Bake the brownies 20 minutes, then remove to COMPLETELY cool.
  • Add caramels and 2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk to a small bowl.
  • Microwave on medium heat, stirring every 20 seconds until the caramels have completely melted.
  • Pour this mixture over the top of the cooked brownies and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle nuts evenly over the caramel layer then put into the freezer while you move onto the next part.
  • Add the sugar, remaining evaporated milk and 1/3 cup butter to a small pan over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble around the outer edge. You want to reach a “soft crack stage”. Turn off the heat as soon as you see a rolling boil.
  • Stir in the peanut butter and the marshmallow creme until smooth.
  • Pour this nougat mixture over the top of the caramel peanut layer and place back in the freezer.
  • Sprinkle the chopped Snickers chunks on top of the caramel peanut layer.
  • In a medium mixing bowl add the chocolate chips, remaining butter and heavy cream. Microwave on medium setting for 20 second intervals until totally melted.
  • Pour over the nougat/snicker bits layer.
  • Add back to the freezer for another 10 minutes, just enough to set the chocolate layer.
  • Cut into squares and serve.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS yields 24

1 box of brownie mix and the ingredients it takes to make them or a batch of homemade
3/4 cup chocolate frosting
15 ounces almond bark
1 jar maraschino cherries (see note)

  • Bake the brownies as directed and let cool completely. Do not overcook the brownies, crunchy brownie bits don’t make for good bombs.
  • Crumble the made brownies and mix in about 3/4 a cup of chocolate frosting – you want a similar consistency to cake pops. You may need to add a little more, but you want to start out on the low side and add more as needed. You want a consistency that stays together easily, but isn’t too sticky to roll into balls.
  • Use about 1 1/2 of brownie frosting mixture and roll it into a ball, but then make a hole in the middle.
  • Add one cherry into the center and fold the brownie ball in over the cherry making sure to seal the cherry in.
 Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Once you have all your bombs made, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  • Melt your almond bark. You may need a little more or a little less depending on how heavily you coat the bombs.

  • Remove the bombs from the freezer but keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Working with one bomb at a time, drop it into the melted almond bark, pull it back out, and tap off the excess chocolate.

  • Place it on wax paper and wait for it to dry completely.
  • If you want to add sprinkles do so IMMEDIATELY as the almond bark will dry quickly.

STRAWBERRY COBBLER BARS – SQUARES

STRAWBERRY COBBLER BARS – SQUARES 18-20 pieces adapted from REE

FILLING
3 cups chopped FRESH strawberries
1/4 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1 SMALL lime, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon Malibu rum

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Add the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, rum, lime zest and lime juice to a mixing bowl.
  • Toss to combine and set aside.

CRUST & CRUMBLE
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed and chilled, plus more for the pan
1 cup PACKED brown sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup FINELY chopped walnuts (optional)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar 

  • In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, brown sugar and baking powder.
  • Pulse until a loose crumb forms; continue to pulse as you add the cream.
  • Grease a 9-X13 baking dish with butter.
  • Spread two-thirds of the flour mixture onto the prepared pan and press flat.
  • Top with the strawberry mixture, spreading it into an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture by dollops, followed by the turbinado sugar.
  • Bake the bars until the top is golden and the strawberry layer is thick and bubbling, 28 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool before icing.

ICING
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar and lime juice until smooth.
  • Cut the cobbler into small squares and drizzle with the icing.
  • Add to a platter and serve.

NOTE: Other flavor do work like cherries, peaches, blueberries and even raisins elieve it or not, but strawberry is the best we’ve tried. If using blueberries be sure to use the small WILD ones. If trying the raisins, substitute 1/2 cup of the fruit for figs and/or chopped walnuts.

FRUIT CRUMBLE BARS

FRUIT CRUMBLE BARS adapted from Mary Berg

Yield: 9 + servings

These are a quick and easy recipe for crumb bars made with a buttery coconut crumble topping and sweet fruit filling. It’s a perfect!

2 cups (270 grams) flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) rolled (old fashioned) oats
1/4 cup (25 grams) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (100 grams) packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
1/2 cup (250 milliliters) coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons (2 1/2 milliliters) PURE vanilla extract
1 cup (370 grams) cherry jam or flavor of choice – see note

  • Preheat to 350°.
  • Adjust oven rack to the lower third of the oven.
  • Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  • Mix together the flour, oats, coconut, brown sugar and salt to combine.
  • Pour the melted coconut oil, melted butter, and vanilla extract over the oat mixture, mixing with a hand mixer JUST until combined.
  • Press two thirds of the dough into the bottom of your prepared baking pan.
  • Spread an even layer of jam over the oat layer.
  • Squeeze and crumble the remaining dough EVENLY into small crumble pieces over top the jam.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the jam is bubbling.
  • Allow the bars to cool COMPLETELY before lifting out of the pan and cutting into squares.

NOTE:

  • Strawberry, apricot, peach, , blueberry, blackberry, raspberry or even apricot pineapple preserves all work really well.
  • You can also substitute cherry pie filling in a pinch. If you do, try to get more fruit and less glaze.

NO BAKE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL BARS

NO BAKE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL BARS
1 cup butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups rolled oats
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
¾ cup chunky peanut butter

  • Line a 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Add the oats, cinnamon and kosher salt, cooking and stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes.
  • Pour half of the oat mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  • Spread out the mixture evenly, pressing down.
  • In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and the peanut butter. Heat on high in the microwave, in increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between each increment, until melted and fully combined.
  • Pour MOST of the chocolate mixture into the pan over the pressed oats, reserving about ¼ cup for drizzling.
  • Top with the remaining oats and drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate mixture.
  • Refrigerate AT LEAST 4 hours, but preferably overnight until set.

MYSTERY INGREDIENT ~ BLACK BEAN BROWNIES

MYSTERY INGREDIENT ~ BLACK BEAN BROWNIES

3/4 cup canned plain unseasoned black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup applesauce
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, FINELY chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup QUALITY cocoa powder
1 LARGE egg
2 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon FINE sea salt
Powdered sugar, garnish (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line an 8 inch baking dish with foil, leaving enough hanging over the edge to be used as handles.
  • Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Combine beans, applesauce and chopped chocolate in food processor and process until smooth.
  • Add sugar, cocoa powder, egg and vanilla. Process again until well combined.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  • Add flour mixture to bean mixture processing JUST until combined.
  • Spread batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until center is firm and edges are puffy.
  • Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  • Lift by foil and cut into squares.
  • Garnish with powdered sugar.

CHERRY CRUMBLE BARS

CHERRY CRUMBLE BARS

BARS
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 LARGE eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon PURE almond extract
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cans (21 ounce) COMSTOCK cherry pie filling (see notes)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey nut granola, crushed

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a large (12×17) jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add salt, eggs, and vanilla and almond flavorings and continue stirring until fully incorporated.
  • Add flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. Reserve 1 3/4 cup of dough.
  • Spread and gently press half the dough into the prepared baking pan.
  • Top with cherry pie filling.
  • To the remaining 1 3/4 cups batter add in the brown sugar and granola pieces.
  • Drop remaining batter in small pieces over the cherry filling.

  • Place pan in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.Turn pan halfway.
  • Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cool completely before glazing.

GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

  • 

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth and drizzle over the bars.
  • Cut into squares and serve.

NOTES:

  • This recipe works well with apple, lemon and peach also as well as the apple/cherry or apple/blackberry combinations.
  • This can be made in 2 9×13 pans to stretch farther. When I do that I use a 3rd can of pie filling.

BUTTERMILK FUDGE BROWNIE CAKES

BUTTERMILK FUDGE BROWNIE CAKES
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease 13×9 inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  • In a 2 quart saucepan combine water, butter and cocoa powder bring it JUST to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Add cocoa mixture to flour mixture, beating on medium until thoroughly combined.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla, beating 1 minute more. Your batter will be thin and that’s okay.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 25-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Pour warm frosting over brownies, spreading evenly.
  • Cool at least one hour before cutting into bars.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK FROSTING
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped roasted walnuts or pecans, optional

  • Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring JUST to boiling.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.
  • Topped with roasted nut of choice if desired.

GRASSHOPPER CHEESECAKE SQUARES

I’ve made Creme de Menthe Brownies for years, but when I found this recipe over at The Kitchen is My Playground I instantly fell in love.

The classic combination of a Grasshopper cocktail (creme de cacao and creme de menthe with cream) turned into a beautifully layered cheesecake treat is so very delicious! and a nice change from the deeper, darker and heavier brownie version.

GRASSHOPPER CHEESECAKE SQUARES Yield: 9 squares
1 1/2 cups (30-40 cookies) chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (gingersnaps are also quite good)
1/4 cup butter, melted
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons white creme de cacao
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons green creme de menthe
2 drops green food coloring (optional)
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate squares, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Combine chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter, mixing well.
  • Press cookie crumb mixture into the baking dish. Set aside.
  • Beat cream cheese for a minute at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating well.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Stir in creme de cacoa.
  • Scoop out 2 and a 1/2 cups of the cheesecake batter and pour it over the cookie crumb crust, spreading evenly with a spatula.
  • Stir creme de menthe into remaining cheesecake batter.
  • Using a spoon or small measuring cup to work with small amounts of batter at a time, GENTLY pour the green cheesecake batter on top of the white cheesecake batter in the baking dish. You don’t want to disturb the layers too much.
  • Bake 45 – 55 minutes.
  • Cool to room temperature and then chill over night.
  • Cut cheesecake into small bars. cutting the bars prior to putting on the chocolate drizzle helps keep the drizzle intact and pretty.
  • Microwave chocolate squares in 20 second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.
  • Add melted chocolate to a ziplock bag and seal.
  • Snip a very tiny hole in one corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the bars. 
  • Store covered in the refrigerator. 

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP CARAMEL PUDDING COOKIES

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIP PUDDING COOKIES

Yields 2-3 dozen cookies – Do your own experimenting with pudding flavors and/or chip flavors!  Adapted from Life in the Loft House

1 cup salted butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 – 3.7 ounce box GODIVA instant caramel chocolate pudding mix
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
2 ⅓ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 – 11 ounce package QUALITY milk chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment.
  • Sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, or stand-mixer, combine the butter, sugars, pudding mix, eggs and vanilla.
  • Beat on medium speed until creamy and combined.
  • Gradually add in the flour and baking soda to the mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop batter by tablespoons on un-greased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for only 9 to 10 minutes. They may not seemed fully baked, BUT THEY ARE! DO NOT OVER BAKE!
  • Remove from oven and let cookies rest and cool on the cookie sheets. There is no need to transfer them to wire racks, but be sure to cool them completely before putting them in the cookie jar.
  • Enjoy these delicious devils by dunking them in milk! ♥

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These cookies are meant to be dense because they are served warm with ice cream or drizzled caramel. For best results do NOT just eat them directly from the jar. If you want to just eat the cookie only, for the best flavor and texture heat it in the microwave for 15 seconds first 😀

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ala MOLLY YEH

Level: Easy Total: 45 min Active: 25 min Yield: 12 servings

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 cups light brown sugar 
2 LARGE eggs, at room temperature 
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract 
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1 cup milk chocolate chips 
Flaky salt, for sprinkling 

  • Place an oven rack in the middle position.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper an set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder until combined. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until JUST combined, scraping down the bottom and sides as needed.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix slowly until JUST BARELY combined.
  • Mix in the chocolate chips.
  • Scoop out a slightly-heaping, 1/2-cup scoop of dough and place on a prepared baking sheet.
  • Lightly press the dough to flatten into the shape of a hockey puck. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing 6 cookies on each baking sheet and making sure to evenly space apart.
  • Sprinkle the tops with flaky salt.
    Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

NOTES:

  • The additional flour in this recipe makes for a more substantial cookie that stays firm. The recipe I’ve been using for decades uses 3 1/2 cups flour and only 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Molly’s recipe called for semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. The flavor of chips is up to you and your flavor palette. I used semi-sweet mini chips and milk chocolate.
  • After placing on baking sheet they can be frozen for use at a later date. If baking from frozen start checking the cookies for doneness at the 20 minute mark.