12.20.2012

Christmastide


Hi from here.

I write to you from the black hole that is my week.  I have been struck down mighty hard by the flu.  Good thing viruses don't travel via internet, 'cause man, it's a doozy.  I intended to write this post ages ago, and even now, still on the couch, not having left the house in days, I wonder if any of it will make sense.  It's set me back on all my last-minute gifting and holiday baking, and I fear in all the illness, I may have lost the Christmas spirit.  But before there was the flu, there was this...


I've been dying to share this recipe with you that my good friend Tricia passed along.  My family celebrated Christmas early this year due to travel, so I made these for our gathering: white chocolate cranberry blondies.  They are amazing.  It sounds almost too simple to be so delicious, but I promise you, they're not. My sister was something of a white chocolate skeptic when I mentioned this recipe, voting for the dark chocolate brownies instead.  Well, I made both and the brownies were quickly swept aside while everyone grabbed for the blondies.  They make a very festive Christmas presentation to boot.  

Adapted from Taste of Home

3/4 cups butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 t. vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped (I just used white chocolate chips)

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 T grated orange peel
6 oz. white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 dried cranberries, chopped

In a large bowl, melt butter in the microwave; stir in brown sugar.  Cool to room temperature; beat in eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.  The batter will be thick.

Spread into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners sugar and orange peel until blended. Gradually add half the melted white chocolate; beat until blended.  Frost blondies with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with cranberries.  Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate (I skipped the drizzle because I ran out of white chocolate...it just for looks).  Cut into bars (you may want to chill before cutting, the frosting will be soft).  Store in the refrigerator.


In other December tidings, I attended an advent-inspired church gathering a couple weeks ago at our local Catholic church.  One of my favorite ways to mark the short season of advent.  We "passed the light", making a pilgrimage to the center of the church with our candles, where they could glow and burn collectively.  


The church's advent wreath is breathtaking.  It hangs, vast and delicate, from the church ceiling, with ribbons draped  down to the pews.  And of course, in time, the candles are lit.  I walked beneath the advent wreath and let my hands brush the tips of the ribbons.  It reminded me of the tassels worn by orthodox Jews.  


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