The Best Box to Use For a Holiday Bar Box (or Holiday Cookie Box)
We used this box to make this holiday bar box and then Erin’s husband, Rich, cut us little dividers on a laser cutter. The craft wood is soft enough, however, that you could probably use a craft knife and a ruler. Then, we just glued the dividers in. When in doubt, just organize your treats by type, no sectionals needed!
Holiday Bar Box Recipes
We put together 6 of our favorite brownie/bar/slice recipes to make this festive box; you can find all of the recipes in their own individual recipe cards at the bottom of this post! Here’s what’s inside:
Peppermint Patty Brownies
These Peppermint Patty Brownies were a fun little recipe that I developed for Bake From Scratch Magazine’s Holiday Cookies Issue. The brownie is soft, the filling minty, and who doesn’t love a nice chocolate coating?! It screams peppermint patty without actually requiring you to have/use peppermint patties.
Oaty Ginger Crunch
This Oaty Ginger Crunch is a New Zealand treat that Erin put together! It’s a chewy, gingery, oaty base topped with a sweet, spicy ginger icing. These bad boys are sweet (and they’re supposed to be), so I recommend cutting them into small bite-sized pieces perfect for snacking on.
Brown Butter Holiday Rice Krispie Treats
These Brown Butter Holiday Rice Krispie Treats are a fun little twist on a recipe from my cookbook, Even Better Brownies. Rice Krispie Treats are already pretty perfect, in my opinion. So the addition of brown butter and festive holiday sprinkles really just take these over the top. A quick note regarding the sprinkles: feel free to use any color you want, but I would avoid nonpareils and stick to jimmies or confetti-type sprinkles!
Brown Butter Salted Caramel Slice
This Brown Butter Salted Caramel Slice recipe is another genius creation from Erin. One thing we both agree on is the fact that brown butter makes everything taste better, and this caramel slice is no exception! It has a brown butter shortbread base topped with a silky brown butter caramel, and finished off with a smooth layer of chocolate. YUM!
These Espresso Carmelitas are a recipe from my cookbook, Even Better Brownies. They’re basically a buttery brown sugar and oats cookie bar that is stuffed with chocolate chips, pecans, and espresso caramel. You’re gonna love them, trust me! Not a fan of coffee? Feel free to omit the espresso powder; you’ll still be left with a delicious treat, trust me!
Festive Birthday Cake Blondies
Erin shared this recipe for Birthday Cake Blondies from my cookbook on her blog recently, and so we thought it would be a great idea to make them festive with some holiday sprinkles and include them in our little holiday bar box. You’ll notice the recipe calls for clear imitation vanilla extract — this is a trick I learned from Christina Tosi (Milk Bar) years ago; clear imitation vanilla is what gives you that box mix funfetti cake flavor from your childhood (which personally, I love). You can replace it with 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract if you prefer!
Feel free to mix and match the heck out of this box – use any recipes you like, and arrange the dividers (if using) however you see fit! You can never go wrong when assembling a box full of delicious treats!
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper, letting the excess extend over the sides of the pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer.
Bake for 30 to 33 minutes. Test the brownies with a toothpick at the 30-minute mark. Insert it into the center of the pan; if it comes out with wet batter, the brownies are not done. If there are only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Keep checking every 2 minutes until you have moist crumbs. Allow brownies to cool completely to room temperature in the pan before proceeding.
To Make the Peppermint Filling:
Place powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract, and vanilla bean paste in a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of boiling water, and stir until incorporated. (It should resemble a thick paste). Add additional boiling water 1 teaspoon (5 grams) at a time, if needed, to help get to correct consistency.
Immediately top the cooled brownie layer with the peppermint filling. Use a damp offset spatula to help smooth the peppermint filling into an even layer. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
To Make the Chocolate Topping:
In the top of a double boiler, combine chocolate and butter. Cook over simmering water, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Immediately top the chilled, set peppermint filling layer with the chocolate topping. Slam pan on a kitchen towel-lined counter to release any air bubbles. Refrigerate until topping is set, about 2 hours.
Using excess parchment as handles, remove from the pan and cut into bars. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
These brownies should be refrigerated but can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9×9-inch pan, and line with two pieces of parchment paper, so that there is an overhang on all sides, forming a sling.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger. Add the brown sugar and rolled oats, and mix well to combine.
In a small pot, melt together the butter, golden syrup, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well. Press the mixture into the tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Five minutes before the base is done, prepare the topping.
To Make the Topping:
Add all of the ingredients to a medium pot in the order listed. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour over the hot base, and leave at room temperature until set. Slice into pieces with a hot knife.
Store in an airtight container. Can be kept in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before eating.
Line a 9 x 9–inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set it aside.
Place the butter in a light-colored skillet. (The light-colored skillet will help you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, the butter will start to foam. Keep stirring. After 5 to 8 minutes, the butter will begin browning; you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and you’ll start to smell a nutty aroma. Once browned, immediately remove from the heat, then stir in the salt and vanilla.
Working quickly, add half of the marshmallows and stir until thoroughly melted. Add the remaining marshmallows and stir until melted. (The residual heat from the butter should be enough to melt them without adding the heat, but you can return the pot to medium-low heat for a few minutes if the second addition of marshmallows isn’t melting quickly.)Note: After you add the marshmallows, keep the heat on low or below medium-low. If your marshmallow is exposed to heat that’s too high, you’ll end up with treats hard enough to break your teeth!
Add the cereal and about ¾ of the sprinkles and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula coated in nonstick cooking spray until the cereal is completely covered with the marshmallow mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Using the rubber spatula, gently press the mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining sprinkles on top. Note: Don’t pack the Rice Krispie Treats into the pan too tightly. If you pack them too tightly, they can end up dense and difficult to bite through.
Let the treats stand at room temperature until set, about 1 hour, before cutting into bars.
The treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
160gbrown butterat room temperature, spreadable consistency (see notes)
85gdark brown sugar
½tspcoarse sea salt
¾tspvanilla bean paste
For the Brown Butter Salted Caramel Filling:
400gsweetened condensed milk
185glight brown sugar
50ggolden syrup(or corn syrup)
¾tspcoarse sea salt
½tspvanilla bean paste
For the Chocolate Topping:
180g70% cacao dark chocolate
Optional for feathering- 50g white chocolate melted with ½ tsp canola oil
To Make the Brown Butter:
Place the butter in a light-colored skillet. (The light-colored skillet will help you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, the butter will start to foam. Keep stirring. After 5 to 8 minutes, the butter will begin browning; you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and you’ll start to smell a nutty aroma. Once browned, immediately remove from the heat.
Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool slightly, then transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill the butter until solid. Remove from the freezer and bring to room temperature, stirring often, until soft and spreadable.
To Make the Brown Butter Shortbread Base:
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease and line an 8×8-inch pan with two pieces of parchment paper leaving an overhang on the sides to use as handles.
In a medium bowl, cream together the spreadable brown butter and brown sugar using a spoon or spatula. Add the salt, vanilla, and flour, and bring together to form a soft, homogenous dough. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, smoothing down with a flat bottomed measuring cup or offset spatula. Prick all over with a fork and chill for 10 minutes.
Bake the base for 30 to 35 minutes, until set and evenly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To Make the Brown Butter Salted Caramel Filling:
Place the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, brown butter and golden syrup in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Place over medium heat and stir until melted together, then cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or rubber spatula, until the mixture registers 220°F (105°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Watch the bottom carefully to avoid the mixture catching, turning down the heat if needed.
Once the caramel has reached the correct temperature, add the vanilla and salt, mix well to incorporate, and pour it over the cooled shortbread base and smooth off by shaking the pan and using an offset spatula if needed. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set for 1-1½ hours or until you can no longer feel the heat in it.
To Make the Chocolate Topping:
In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and the oil, stirring frequently, until smooth. Alternatively, melt together in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring well after each.
Pour over the set caramel filling, and tilt the pan to evenly coat. Bang the pan on the counter several times to smooth out the topping and eliminate any bubbles. If you would like to add the feathering, pipe horizontal stripes of the melted white chocolate across the surface, then feather using a skewer or toothpick by dragging it up and down the surface of the chocolate, perpendicular to the lines that you piped.
Chill in the fridge until completely set, at least an hour or overnight. Remove from the pan by using the parchment paper slings and cut into slices using a sharp knife, wiping between each.
Brown all of the butter at once and then place into a bowl or container and chill it down until it is a spreadable texture – you can either do this in the freezer, stirring often, or if you are making it ahead, just pop it in the fridge then bring out and let it come to room temperature/a spreadable texture when you are ready to bake.Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8 x 8–inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the pan with parchment paper with an overhang on two sides. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
To Make the Espresso Caramel:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the granulated sugar, stirring with a high heat–resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn it!
Once the sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes, immediately add the butter and stir until melted, about 2 minutes. (Be careful with this step, because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.)
Very slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while stirring. Allow the mixture to boil for 30 to 45 seconds, then remove it from the heat. Stir in the espresso powder and salt and set it aside until needed.
To Make the Carmelitas:
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, light brown sugar, vanilla, flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir everything together with a fork. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the top evenly with the chocolate chips and pecans, and then with the espresso caramel. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for 18 to 20 minutes, just until the edges are lightly browned.
Remove from the oven. Cool in the pan on a wire rack at least 3 hours before removing and cutting into bars.
Cover and store leftover bars in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8"x8" pan and then line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Grease the parchment paper then set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar together for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until lighter in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Gently fold in 5 tablespoons (50 g) of the sprinkles and the white chocolate chips until evenly incorporated. Transfer the batter to the pan and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon (10 g) of rainbow sprinkles.
Bake until the top and edges are set and golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the blondies to cool in the pan for 45 minutes before removing and slicing.
I learned this trick from Milk Bar years ago — clear imitation vanilla extract is what gives you the funfetti birthday cake flavor from your childhood. You can replace it with 1 tablespoon (15ml) of pure vanilla extract if that’s all you have!Cover and store leftover blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
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