These holiday bars are one of my favorites. Like most layered bar cookies, they come together quickly. They freeze well, they look festive and the buttery citrus flavor will brighten any gloomy winter day.
They also make me think of my grandparents. They still are the only people I know who regularly used or talked about citron, a kind of citrus fruit whose candied rind is used in the Italian fruit-studded cake called panettone.
I recommend making at least two batches of these bars at a time. My family can easily polish off a pan if I don't store them in my secret cookie hiding spot. (Yes, I actually have a site — but only one — in my house that has yet to be discovered.)
If you have children, this is a great recipe for letting kids help out in the kitchen. Once most of the ingredients are measured, all you need to do is sprinkle them on top.
Enjoy your holiday cookie baking this year! If you need more recipes, check out Amy's Ginger Cookies.
Cherry Orange White Chocolate 7-Layer Bars
1 1/2 cups graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup melted butter
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup candied orange peel (you can also use citron or lemon peel)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with a large piece of foil that extends over the edges of the pan. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, stir graham cracker crumbs, orange peel and melted butter until all crumbs are combined. Press mixture into bottom of baking pan.
Pour condensed milk over the entire crust. Then evenly sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top: the white chocolate chips, walnuts, cherries, coconut and candied orange peel.
Coat a large flat spatula with cooking spray and use it to gently press the layers into the condensed milk.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges of the bars are light brown.
Let pan completely cool on a wire rack. To cut, use foil edges to lift bars out of pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice into squares.