It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Go ahead, it’s okay to sing along.

The most wonderful time of the year  — Christmas Cookie time! A time of celebrating baking. And chocolate. And cookies!

Seven years ago when we made the big move from Michigan to Florida, the first people to come over and introduce themselves were our neighbors Bill & Barbara Herr. Right off the bat we broke the unwritten rule of new neighbors and asked to borrow a ladder so we could finish painting the living room. (Our ladders were on the moving truck which was delayed because of a non-existent hurricane. Welcome to Florida.)

Every year, Barbara bakes up a storm and comes caroling to our door with a beautiful plate of homemade cookies. It is truly alarming how quickly a household of only 2 people can plow through a plate of her Christmas cookies. My favorite has always been the Cranberry Pecan bars and this year she was nice enough to share the recipe.

These are extremely quick and easy to put together. You can do all the mixing by hand in one bowl – no need for a big mixer or any special baking equipment.

Here’s what you need:

Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Coconut, Milk, Pecans, Orange Zest, butter, and Cranberries.

Click here for a Cranberry Pecan Bars Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

You probably already know this, but the stick of butter comes with helpful measuring guidelines. It’s especially handy for recipes like this that take an odd sized measurement like 1/3 cup.

In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup cold butter with 1 cup flour and 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Use a pastry blender (or your fingers) to work the butter and flour together until it resembles large, coarse crumbs.

You can see little pieces of butter about the size of peas.

Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the flour and stir to combine.

Lightly press the crust mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13×9 inch pan. It will be very crumbly so don’t worry about pressing it down too much – it will form a crust as it bakes.

Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the crust bakes, chop up 1 cup of fresh cranberries.

Sorry, but I don’t have a tip for chopping cranberries that keeps them from rolling all over the place.

Using a microplane or other small grater, grate the outer zest off of 1 large orange – about 1 Tablespoon.

Using the same bowl you used for the crust, combine 1¼ cups sugar and 2 Tablespoons of flour.

Lightly beat 2 eggs and add them to the bowl.

Add 2 Tablespoons of milk,

1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon of grated orange zest. Stir to combine all of the ingredients

then add 1 cup of chopped cranberries, the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup of coconut.

Stir it all together and enjoy the amazing aroma of the fresh orange zest. This gives me an idea for cranberry orange pancakes…

After the crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven and pour the cranberry topping over the partially baked crust.

Spread the cranberry topping so it covers all of the crust,

return it to the oven, and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until the top is lightly golden brown.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut into squares while the bars are still slightly warm.

The combination of orange, cranberry, and pecans with the buttery crust is ridiculously good.

This makes 36 small squares. Enough to enjoy yourself and plenty to box up for friends or lucky neighbors!

And you can see that more cookie recipes are coming soon!

It’s the hap-happiest season of all…

Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Pecan Bars

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