Holiday Deliciousness: Magic Cookie Bars & Butter Mints

Today I was quizzing the girls on their absolute favorite Christmas-time sweets.

M went with a classic that we would make every year when I was growing up, the Magic Cookie Bar. These are super-easy and delicious. I checked the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk site, and sure enough, they have a recipe. I do only two things differently. First, I skip the non-stick spray and just melt the stick of butter directly in the pan while the oven’s pre-heating. This makes for less clean-up, but I might try the mix-it-up technique because my bottom layer occasionally crumbles. So that’s a debatable point. However, my second tip is a newer innovation, and I think that it makes the recipe much tastier and marginally more healthful. We use unsweetened coconut (found in natural food section) instead of the standard baking coconut flakes.  As it is, the recipe is almost too sweet, so upping the nut and coconut content balances these out better.

J chose Buttermints. These are a relatively new recipe, and I started making them because they were easy and fun for kid-participation. Plus, they look pretty. They’re very sweet. I use double, triple, possibly even quadruple the peppermint. That’s partly to distinguish them from another item in our repertoire, the Walnut Cream. We’ll get to that one later.

The first time we made buttermints J helped me, and we made cute little round mints in pale pink, yellow, and green. I’ve said before that she’s a little Martha Stewart, right? Well, that night, I found her thrashing wildly in her bed, clearly dreaming. When I managed to calm her down, she looked at me urgently and whispered, “I want to make the green mints shaped like trees!” It was an excellent idea, and for the next batch we used cookie cutters to shape them. They’re a little bit thin and delicate that way, but they’re awfully pretty, too.


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