Friday, December 6, 2019

Candy Cane Kiss Bars: 12 Days of Cookies Day 4

Following the theme of different flavors of Christmas baking, this is the first Christmas cookie of the year with peppermint. I do like peppermint in baked goods, and these bars use Candy Cane Kisses, which is a favorite of my friend at work. I have found a couple of different recipes using Candy Cane Kisses: a thumbprint cookie and one where you melt the Kisses to make icing. All of them are good and I was excited to find a bar cookie that used the Kisses.

These bars are not hard to make. It is hard, however, to unwrap Kisses and finely chop them. I counted out the Kisses first, and then unwrapped them for the cookies. This took time and I think I poked my hand when I was chopping them. I have to be more careful! Thankfully I got a little bit of a brake before I had to deal with the Kisses that accompany the frosting, and I did a better job chopping up the batch of 20 Kisses. Still, you should be careful when chopping. I wonder if I could chop them in a food processor. Yes, I am lazy.

While I typically make bar cookies a day ahead so that they have time to cool properly, I think you could make these bars in an evening. They bake quickly (except for chopping the Kisses) and take little time to cool. I forgot to set the time on my bars, so I’m sorry about not having a more specific baking time. You can tell then they are done as they are golden on the top. The frosting is cream cheese icing, and the question is whether it needs to be refrigerated. I would say it wouldn’t hurt to put it in the refrigerator overnight, but cookies seldom last that long for me!

Candy Cane Kiss Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
50 Candy Cane Kisses, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups)

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-3 tablespoons whipping cream/milk
20 Candy Cane Kisses, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then the dough has almost come together, add the chopped Candy Cane Kisses and stir on low until the dough comes together. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the bars are golden. Allow the bars to cool before frosting.

Make the frosting: in a large mixer bowl beat the cream cheese and butter on medium until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir to combine. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is of spreading consistency. Spread the frosting over the cooled bars and top with the ½ cup chopped Candy Cane Kisses.

Remove from the pan and cut into bars. Refrigerate for longer storage.

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