Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Cranberry Bliss Seven Layer Bars -- #Christmas #recipe

LESLIE: Christmas cookies. Magic words. In my house, there are a few faves that make repeat appearances year in and year out—Russian Teacakes, date pinwheels, fudge. (Okay, fudge isn’t a cookie, but it’s so good, who cares?)

But I also love discovering new cookies that are pretty enough and special enough to earn the designation “Christmas cookie.” In the virtual cookie exchange on my Facebook Author page,
reader Lisa Landrum Henson shared this recipe for a cranberry version of Seven Layer Bars, sometimes called Magic Cookie Bars. I knew right away that Mr. Right would love it—and he did! I’ve revised Lisa’s recipe a little bit—I can’t help myself---but I do want to share two of her suggestions: She uses orange-flavored dried cranberries, which I’ve never seen, but I can easily imagine the extra tang and flavor they’d add. She also cautioned to watch the bars closely in the last few minutes of baking because the coconut can go from toasty to burned quickly; that was not a problem for me, even in my very hot oven, but it’s worth noting.

What do you do with the rest of the sweetened condensed milk? Be like Mr. Right, who made us each a thick, sweet cup of Vietnamese coffee.

These are very sweet, so you might want to cut them smaller than I did. Or not. Because you don’t wanta mess with magic. 

Wishing you all the joys and blessings of the season.

Cranberry Bliss Seven Layer Bars

1/4 cup butter (salted or unsalted)
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut flakes, measured loosely and not packed
about two-thirds of a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray—be sure to get the sides—and set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium, microwave-safe bowl, 30-40 seconds, stirring to melt any remaining lumps. Add the graham crackers crumbs and mix. Spoon into prepared pan, using the back of the spoon or your fingers to press into a smooth, flat layer. (It will be thin.)

Top evenly, in order, with the white chocolate chips, chocolate chips, walnuts, cranberries, and coconut.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the top.

Bake about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around edges and the center is mostly set.

Place pan on a wire rack to cool at least 2 hours before cutting. Bars will firm as they cool. Cut in squares, roughly 2"X2".

Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Makes about 20 bars.

From the cover of As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles, Food Lovers’ Village Mystery # 5 (Midnight Ink Books)

Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive til Christmas? 

In Jewel Bay, Montana’s Christmas Village, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and was nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Wow, I didn't think you could improve on Magic Cookie Bars but this might just be the recipe that does it! Will be trying this. And loving the cookie exchange. And now I need to go make some fudge.

    1. Enjoy! And fudge is on my list, too, along with Date Pinwheels and Russian Teacakes and...

  2. This sounds great.
    Magic Cookie Bars was a favorite of mine. A professor's wife used to make them for cast parties.
    Date Pinwheels???

    1. Cast parties? Were you an acting student?
      Date pinwheels are a brown sugar cookie, rolled out, spread with a cooked date and walnut mixture, then rolled up, sliced, and baked. One of my dad's faves that my mom made every year.

    2. Ooo the pinwheels sound great.
      Yup. English major with a theatre/drama concentration. (We didn't have a drama major at that time.)

  3. Yum. I remember my grandma's 7 layer bars but never had them with cranberries. I'll have to try out this variation.

  4. This would be a fun project to make with kids
    thank you,
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com