Our annual holiday party at LeisureMedia360 is full of good food, good laughs and LOTS of good cookies. Here are three scrumptious recipes you can try at home!
Note: The story below appears in our Nov./Dec. 2014 issue. For the full story download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
Photos by David Hungate
Left: Lemon Crinkle Cookies are refreshingly light and tasty.
Top: Cranberry Bliss Bars have the perfect balance of sweet and tart thanks to white chocolate and dried cranberries.
Bottom: Chewy and delicious is the best way to describe Mary Fowler’s coconut macaroons.
Come Christmas, the staff here at LeisureMedia360 – myself included – gets into the holiday spirit. We decorate the office, hang ornaments on the Christmas tree and look forward to our annual holiday party.
The party has evolved over the years, featuring everything from catered meals to potluck brunches, Secret Santa gifts to the newest – and in my opinion, it should be permanent – tradition, the cookie exchange.
Our receptionist Mary Fowler, who shares one of her recipes here, organizes the exchange. Once everyone who wants to participate signs up, we typically have to make three to four dozen cookies in order for everyone to take two cookies from each participant. That’s a lot of cookies…but so worth it! We’ve got some pretty awesome bakers on staff.
On party day, our conference room table is filled with festive plates piled high with yummy cookies. Containers – large ones, of course – in hand, we make our way around the table, some of us downright giddy about the goodies we get to take home. Though I usually want to just to keep the entire container for myself, I do share with family as we make our rounds on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Cookie exchanges aren’t just for business holiday parties. Gather your friends or family and host one yourself! It takes care of your holiday baking, keeping you out of the kitchen to spend even more time with the ones you love.
Need some cookie ideas? See three here and more online at TheRoanoker.com/cookies – for recipes from the LeisureMedia360 staff. Merry Christmas!
Cranberry Bliss Bars
By Melinda Milan
For the Bars:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt, optional and to taste
- ¾ cup white chocolate chips
- ½ cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
- ½ tsp. orange zest, optional and to taste
For the Frosting and Topping:
- 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and divided
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened (whipped or light may be used)
- ¾ tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
For the Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. Melt the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. To the melted butter (allow it to cool slightly so you don’t scramble the egg), add the egg, brown sugar and vanilla; stir to combine. Add the flour and salt; stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough. Fold in ¾ cup white chocolate chips, ½ cup cranberries and optional orange zest; stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, and center is set and golden or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, or a toothpick comes out clean; do not over bake. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.
For the Frosting and Topping: In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high power, about 1 minute, reheating in 10-second intervals, or until it can be stirred smooth.
With a stand or electric mixer, combine cream cheese, about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth and fluffy. Tips: Start by mixing on low speed so sugar doesn’t spray, and then beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. Mixture will seem stiff at first but will loosen and fluff up after 2 to 3 minutes of beating on medium-high; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add additional confectioners’ sugar based on taste preference and desired frosting consistency. Frost the bars.
Evenly sprinkle ½ cup cranberries over the top of the frosted bars. Evenly drizzle bars with remaining melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds in the microwave if it has set up. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.