White Chocolate, Almond and Cranberry Bars

Most of us are familiar with that famous coffee shop that serves a cranberry white chocolate bar during the holidays. In another life, I loved those bars. Now they seem overly sweet and leave a heavy grease-like coating on my tongue. When the holidays roll around, I think of them as I love the flavors of cranberry and white chocolate.

Recently, Eagle Brand reached out to me to see if I would like to create a holiday recipe using their sweetened condensed milk. That red, white and blue of Eagle Brand's is proof that God loves us and wants us to make dessert - so I said, Yes!.

I've been mulling over a white chocolate, almond and cranberry type of magic bar and thought this was the perfect opportunity to make that happen. I was eager to start baking this morning and gathered all my ingredients together. The recipe that follows is what I had intended to make but I had a sweet accident occur and will share that variation of this crust here.

In my haste, I thought I had pulled out graham cracker crumbs but once I added the crumbs to my melted butter I realized I did, in fact, pull the corn flake crumbs from the pantry (why I took these out of the box and didn't label them I'll never know). I had a conversation with myself for a few moments. Should I start over? Why did I do that? How bad could it be?

As Darcie did in her earlier article, I went with this mishap. I wasn't going to throw out good ingredients and start over. I tasted the crumbs and decided to add a tablespoon of sugar and a bit of orange zest. It looked good and I was hopeful it would work. Fast forward to an hour later, that accidental crust was really delicious and if I do say so myself I like it better than the graham cracker crust. So if you like to try something different, feel free to try my mistake. If not, follow the crust I intended to make. The switch out is one for one but I did added a touch of sugar to even it out and the zest for a bit of a kick. (Photo of the tart below show the corn flake crumb crust version; the bars show the graham cracker crust)

 

White chocolate, almond and cranberry bars
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Ingredients

For the crust:

1/2 cup  butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 

For the bars:

1 (14 ounce) can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate (chopped or chips) 
1 cup of flaked coconut 
1 cup of slivered almonds
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries (dried cranberries are fine but I love the pop of tartness with fresh)
1 1/2 teaspoons of orange zest 

For the glaze

1/4 cup of white chocolate, melted

For decoration (optional but looks amazing on the tart)

Sugared cranberries (I scaled this recipe to make 1/2 cup of berries)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 9 (or 8 x 8 for a thicker bar) inch baking pan with no stick cooking spray, or prepare with butter. 

Combine graham crackers and butter and press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture. Sprinkle the orange zest on top of the condensed milk (reserve a bit for finishing). I added a pinch of salt as well to the condensed milk to balance it.

Layer with the white chocolate, coconut, almonds and cranberries (just as you do for the Magic Bars). Bake 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool. 

While the bars are cooling make the Sugared cranberries (scale down to a 1/2 cup), set aside. Next melt the 1/4 cup of white chocolate, it took 30 seconds in the microwave to soften and then I stirred until fully melted. 

Drizzle the white chocolate over the bars, cut into bars or diamonds and place a few sugared cranberries on the bars while the drizzle is still wet to help them stay put. Sprinkle the rest of your orange zest on your bars and enjoy. 

The extra sugared cranberries are yours for doing a great job and I'd only add them if you are dressing the bars up. I made this recipe two ways - bars with the graham cracker crust and a fancy tart with the corn flake crumb tart. 

 

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