I don’t do a lot of Christmas baking – the fruitcakes and one other pastry – a large cookie sheet of shortbread topped with candied fruit, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped pecans all mixed together using Eagle Brand condensed milk! What could be bad about that, right?
The original idea came from a package of shortbread mix from Robin Hood Flour but they stopped making the kit a gazillion years ago. I have a great simple traditional shortbread recipe I use and add the topping and then I do my best to give this pastry away as fast as I can!
Here is the recipe:
Mrs. Cooke’s Shortbread
(I double this recipe when I make my shortbread bars because I need enough shortbread to cover a large cookie sheet)
Preheat oven 350° F
- 1/2 lb butter (at room temperature so you can cream it easily)
- 1/2 c white sugar (this year I will use coconut palm sugar which I’m sure will work as well since I’m avoiding white sugar entirely in my diet)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (that’s real vanilla, please)
- 2 c. white all purpose flour
Cream butter, add sugar, vanilla, and last the flour; Mix well until you have a crumbly texture
Dump onto a large non-stick (or parchment lined or Silpat covered) cookie sheet
Press firmly, particularly at the edges
Pierce with a fork to allow the shortbread to expand uniformly
Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate cookie sheet 180° so the shortbread bakes evenly, then bake for another 15 minutes.
The shortbread won’t be quite fully baked but that’s how you want it because you’re going to continue baking after you add the candied fruit topping. Let the shortbread cool for 10-15 minutes before proceeding
Candied Fruit Topping
- 1 – 11/2 c shredded coconut (unsweetened if you have it)
- 1 c of mixed candied fruit (with some chopped cherries and citron)
- 1 c Thompson raisins (you can certainly use sultanas if you prefer them, or even currents)
- 1 c chopped pecans (you could use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts chopped)
- 1/2 c dried cranberries
- 1 c bitter-sweet chocolate chips (can also use semi-sweet – the point is dark rather than milk chocolate)
- 1 can (room temperature) Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
Put all the topping ingredients into a large bowl, add the condensed milk and mix as well as you can – it’s a sticky mess but is it ever going to be good.
Spoon the fruit/condensed milk mixture onto the shortbread making sure you spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of the shortbread (try getting as close to the edges as you can – don’t want to waste any of this Christmas bar).
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350° – until the coconut begins to turn golden.
Cool on a rack, then cut into bars. I cut the entire concoction into 8 portions – which in turn can be cut into 12-16 bite-sized bars. This stuff is SOOO rich you don’t want to serve more (although you’ll want to eat more).
I make these Christmas bars about three-four weeks before Christmas. Slip each of the 8 portions into its own small ziploc plastic bag, store them in the fridge until I give them away.
Let me know how it goes if you decide to try them – they’ll be an instant favourite – trust me!