Jingle Bars are a decadent treat for the holidays loaded up with cranberries, almonds, caramel and white chocolate on a shortbread crust – sweet and tart in one bite!
These are one of my favourite Christmas treats that I haven’t made for a few years… well, since 2004 to be exact!
Every December I would have a Christmas baking day with one of my oldest and bestest friends, Laura. We’ve been friends since we were 7 or 8… neither of us can really remember. Forever basically.
There is great comfort in having a friend who’s known you that long. They know you better than anyone except your family. They know where you come from, how you were raised, where your values and all your weird baggage comes from… They were there for all the milestones. Their mom made you cookies and their dad ferried you to the mall (heck, her mom STILL makes me cookies when I see her!). You still call her parents “Mr and Mrs V” cuz it’s ingrained in you, even when they insist you call them by their first name because you’re grown up now.
Laura is that friend for me. We’ve taken different paths in adulthood. In fact, we’re very different people from one another. There’s things we agree to disagree on and there’s things we’ll always share.
We haven’t always been in the same city, or even the same country, but she’s always been there. There’s times where I’ve shown up on her doorstep just because I needed too. And she would make me a cup of tea, or give me a spare bedroom and know when to be silent and when to talk.
In 2005 she moved an eight hour drive away over numerous mountain ranges and that put a hold on our Christmas baking tradition. This year, she moved only 4 hours away (still over a mountain range or two) and we thought we might be able to start up again. But, life had other plans and it wasn’t to be.
She gave me the recipe for Jingle Bars – it was one of the first treats we baked together. I decided to pull it out this year and make it anyway. And half way through, I ran into a conundrum and I had an excuse to call her and say hi!
*from the White Rock – South Surrey Skating Club – made every year for the Jingle Blades skating competition.
** here is the recipe as I have it written out but I’ve added some notes for some modifications I made this time around.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp Bird’s Custard Powder (you could probably sub any kind of vanilla pudding powder)
1 cup dried cranberries (I increased both cranberries and almonds to 1 1/4 cups of each)
1 cup toasted almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar (I upped it to 1 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup (I upped it to 2 1/4 tbsp)
1/2 cup butter (I upped it to 3/4 cup)
1 package or 1 oz square of Baker’s White Chocolate (I wound up using 3)
Combine butter, sugar, egg yolk, flour, custard powder till crumbly.
Press into a 15′ x 10′ jelly roll pan that’s been rubbed or sprayed w/oil. You will find it is spread very thin – that’s ok. You might even find it easier to use a rolling pin to get it even.
Bake 10 minutes at 350F
Spread cranberries and almonds over cooked base.
Melt brown sugar, corn syrup and butter over low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and then pour over the cooked base. I upped my quantities for the glaze because when I made the original amount it didn’t cover the base enough for the almonds and cranberries to adhere.
Bake for 5 minutes at 350F
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler (you can heat in a saucepan but be very careful – white chocolate burns very easily) and drizzle over base.
Cut when warm (it will save you much irritation later) and allow to cool to set.
These freeze up well and make a great gift – just package with a sheet of parchment or wax paper between layers.
I used my tripod for all of the shots. The ingredients/making of shots were done on one day. Finished product shots were done the next. Strictly because the light was so poor.
Image 1: 50mm, f2.5, 1/13th, ISO200, no exposure compensation, filled with my gold reflector.
Image 2: 50mm, f3.5, 1/6th, ISO100, +2/3 exposure compensation.
Image 3: 50mm, f3.5, 1/30th, ISO100, +2/3 exposure compensation
Image 4: 50mm, f3.5, 1/8th, ISO100, no exposure compensation.