I know, I know.. two super easy holiday recipes back-to-back? For shame!/you’re welcome.
I mentioned this in my defense of my last box-mix-based recipe that just so happened to be balls-to-the-wall delicious (peppermint layer brownies, lawd have mercy on my soul. I’ve eaten like 45 since the recipe was posted), but.. it’s the holidays. I have to make sweets like non-to-the-stop (the 90s have apparently taken over my precious spirit and I regret nothing) for parties and gifts and O’s work functions, and I also have this like, little, erm, what’s the word, oh yeah, 3-month-old baby who requires pretty much constant supervision, so he’s, you know, a pretty decent amount of work. And I still have work work, and I do like to shower every so often so..
What I’m trying to say is submit! Submit to the easy and the delicious! Leave your stand mixer on the shelf–it’s way too heavy anyway. Keep it sexy and dirty only two dishes! You can even make a video, because that’s how dern easy these are. And oh? You wanted to hear about their conception, did you? Of course you did. Allow me!
So.. I was trying to think of something to send to work with O for his courtroom’s little holiday thingy–I’m not 100% sure how this goes down, so I’ll refer to it as a “thingy” for now–and he suggested the peppermint layer brownies. Which I made once and sent to my cousins in Caleefornia and then made again with one of my besties because she was sad and brownies make everybody happy. And I sent like 25 with O to work, and they got gobbled up, and I gobbled them up, and–I kid you not–I heard the plastic container housing them open up ON THEIR OWN in the kitchen when O happened to be in there, and I said, “Don’t eat those! Dinner will be ready in ten minutes!” and he claimed, with a mouth full of something that he was “just looking at them”. OK, honey. OK.–O definitely gobbled them up. So I figured it was worth trying something else for a change, lest I become the peppermint layer brownies girl, though there are worse fates in this world, to be sure.
Anyway, I wanted something totally different and light, more winter-wonderlandy, and I’d been craving some serious sugar cookies as of late. O, as with all things in life, requested white chocolate, and a pairing with dried cranberries came to mind! Simple and so, so easy; a bit festive but elegant.
I decided to use refrigerated cookie dough for, hrmm.. oh yeah, absolute mind-blowing ease of use, and I really, really hate getting out the stand mixer. I mixed in dried cranberries by hand, reminded of this choose-your-adventure cookie shop they had in Austin, TX when I was in law school there (ever so briefly), where you’d select the dough base then the “mix-ins” and they’d mash it all together and bake it right before your very eyes. And then I spread the dough out into a 13×9″ pan, baked, cooled, and topped with a simple white chocolate “ganache” based on the chocolate layer in those peppermint layer brownies. Sprinkle with some white sugar pearls for festiveness and a smidge of elegance, and tada! O was not stoked about the addition of cranberries–not his favorite, apparently.. though he loveloveloved the baby kale + feta + pumpkin seeds + dried cranberries salad I made the other day, based on my pomegranate version) but he still begged me to let him “try one” before he took them to work, and, of course, I obliged. Then he begged me to let him try another, and I did not oblige, and he went on and on about how good they were. So.. they’re O-approved at the very least.
The sugar cookie is perfectly sweet and simple, nice and soft and dotted beautifully with chewy, tart dried cranberries. Topped with a creamy, rich white chocolate ganache and a delicate crunch from the white sugar pearls, they’re beautifully balanced and painfully easy. You’ll love these because they take hardly any time but look like a thousand buckeroos and are festive without being dorky. Make them!
Easy Cranberry White Chocolate Cookie Bars
- 2 16- ounce packages of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (I used Pillsburg)
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 12 ounces white chocolate chips or baking chocolate , chopped
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 tbsp white sugar pearls , for garnish
- Mix together sugar cookie dough and cranberries until cranberries are mixed evenly throughout dough. Line a 13x9" pan with parchment paper and bake at 375ºF 25-30 minutes. They're done when the edges are set and top of middle is slightly golden brown. Don't overbake! But make sure the center doesn't look still gooey/raw. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine white chocolate and butter. Very carefully microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring very well after each round, until chocolate is melted and very smooth. Spread mixture over cooled cookie layer and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle sugar pearls on top and chill 30 minutes or until chocolate layer is hardened.
- Gently remove from pan by lifting the corners of the parchment paper up and carefully trim the edges of the cookie layer with a sharp, long knife. Cut into serving-size squares and serve!
You can add more white sugar pearls for garnish.