We’re keeping things minimal this holiday season. With so much of our stuff in storage, it seems crazy to do much decorating, and anyway, the house we are in right now is too small for two big dogs, a tiny cat, two humans and a Christmas tree.
I’m not going to send many cards this year – but, that doesn’t mean I’ve become the Grinch. I bought a beautiful handmade wreath at our farmers market, and I’m making up care packages for our closest friends. And I’m planning a family brunch for New Year’s Day.
And I’m certainly not going to miss out on holiday baking. Instead of cookies, though, this year I’m focusing on bars; rich, gooey, and much lower maintenance than your typical holiday cookie.
I’m a big fan of slight under-baking when it comes to bars and brownies. My bars all need to be chilled before you slice them, and unlike your average cookie, they need to be stored in the refrigerator. But they’ll keep well for up to two weeks – not that you are likely to have them around that long.
Though I love the warm, sweet, spicy aroma of hot buttered run, I’ve never been a big fan of the drink – maybe I’ve just never found the bartender with the right touch, but it’s always much too strong for me. Eggnog, that’s another story. If I didn’t limit myself to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for that particular holiday indulgence, I’d have to start training for a marathon in the New Year, which probably isn’t such a bad idea, even without the nog. Maybe I should sign up for the Big Climb, too.
But the idea of a browned rum butter in a blondie haunted one of my cold dog walks last week, and I had to come home and give it a try. And it’s not really holiday baking if you just make one thing, so I also tried adding crushed candy canes to my favorite brownie recipe. Both bars are keepers, perfect for a tree decorating party, or as just the antidote to days where the sun goes down at 4pm.
Both these bars bake at 325°F and it’s easy to make and bake them both in the same session. Just note that you need to toast the nuts for the blondies and make the rum butter ahead of time, and that both bars need to chill in their respective pans overnight before you cut into them. Like the big Christmas tree I’m going to have next year, these bars are worth the wait.