I don’t even know what to say about this recipe. I was in the kitchen. I had cravings. It happened. But oh-my-goodness, I’m so glad it did.
I love cookies and squares. And I love Christmas time. And I really love Starbucks Cranberry Bliss bars. My husband loves cookies and squares. And he also really loves Christmas time. And he’s crazy about Hello Dollies, which I make periodically throughout the year. So really, there were a lot of reasons the following recipe happened, but once it was made I knew it was a keeper; And subsequently, share worthy.
I began with a shortbread crust, because that’s the base of a cranberry bliss bar and I really wanted one! Actually, I told my 12 year old I used shortbread because it was white and reminded me of snow, but she laughed at me and said that was cheesy.
Notice how I didn’t make a gluten free version? Who’s laughing now, little monster… 😛
Next, I did layers of shredded coconut, pecans and chocolate chips, because they are the core ingredients of a Hello Dollie square and frankly, they’re delicious. In place of regular chocolate chips, I used Holiday chocolate chips. They’re just so pretty, all green, red and white. I got mine at Bulk Barn, but I’m sure that Hershey’s sells them as well.
After that, I sprinkled some dried cranberries over the whole thing… I can’t even describe how badly I wanted a cranberry bliss bar.
Can I just say right now, that if you’re the kind of person who feels more comfortable with actual measurements, this recipe may frustrate you a bit. This was one of those times I went at it with “handfuls” and “sprinkles” and “pinches”. I’m apologizing in advance.
Over the mixture, I poured a can of sweetened condensed milk, and then for good measure, I tossed a handful of Christmas sprinkle beads over the whole thing. It was seriously a gorgeous, sugary, sparkly mess.
They baked quickly, maybe 20-25 minutes in the oven, and once they cooled for an hour, they were easy to pop out of the pan and cut into squares. They’re the perfect balance of cranberry bliss bar (for me) and a Hello Dollie (for my lovely husband), and they look super pretty and festive on a serving plate.
Recipe for Christmas Dollies
Line your 10×15 cookie tray with parchment. Preheat the oven to 375.
Using a pastry cutter (or stand mixer), blend the flour, butter and icing sugar until you have a well mixed, crumbly mess. Pour the entire mixture on the cookie sheet, and spread it out evenly. It may seem like a lot.
Press the shortbread mixture down, firmly. I usually cover it all with another sheet of parchment, then use a small fondant roller to pack it all down tight. you can use a mason jar as a roller, or your hands! Peel the parchment off the top and voila – a perfect little shortbread crust.
Throw on that coconut. If it’s not enough or too much, depending on what you like, adjust the amount and make a note of it for yourself.
Repeat this step with the pecan pieces, dried cranberries, and then the chocolate chips. The chocolate chips are pretty, throw them on last so they’re nice and showy.
Drizzle the can of condensed milk over the whole thing. Don’t pour it too fast, take it nice and slow, that single can will cover the whole surface. It will also spread out while baking.
Now add the Christmas sprinkles and take a picture and stick it on Instagram. You’ll be proud of this one.
Bake it at 375 until it begins to brown at the edges. I left mine for about 23 minutes, I like it nice and caramelized. Let the squares cool for about an hour and then run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen them from the tray. Slide the entire thing out onto a cutting board, parchment and all, and then use a large knife to cut your squares.
I find that half the tray fills a container for “right now” treats, and the other half of the tray will freeze really well, for drop in guests or bringing to a party. What ever you do with them, I hope you enjoy these squares over the holiday season!