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  • Author Darci Hannah

A Dash of Christmas Cheer!


Dear readers,

This will be the second Christmas that my first Christmas cozy mystery, Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off, has been out, and I am so thrilled that this cozy little dash of Christmas cheer is still going strong.


As a lifelong enthusiastic amateur baker and lover of lighthouses, I consider myself blessed to be writing the Beacon Bakeshop Mysteries. The entire series is set in a bakeshop in a lighthouse on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, a lake that's near and dear to my heart. It's not an overstatement to say that when I sit at my computer to write these mysteries, I feel like I'm visiting an old friend, and I strive to bring that feeling of adventure, friendship, and belonging to my readers.


Therefore, when I set out to write MURDER AT THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKE-OFF, I really wanted to capture the spirit of Christmas and bring it to my fictional town of Beacon Harbor, Michigan. I remember when I was thinking up this story that I wanted the perfect baked good to highlight this charming Christmas mystery. Since I write about a bakeshop, there’s always some delicious treat that Lindsey Bakewell and her crew are focusing on. It didn’t take me long before I embraced Christmas cookies. The beauty of the Christmas cookie is that the possibilities are endless. There are so many to choose from, and each person has their favorite. Needless to say, I baked a lot of cookies during the writing of this story!


Darci in the kitchen with sons, Dan & Matt

I didn't realize that by baking Christmas cookies and sharing the recipes on my website, that I'd one day be asked to do a livestream Christmas cookie baking segment for a popular web app. I'm not a professional baker. I'm a writer! However, when I was asked if I'd be interested in doing a livestream baking demonstration for the MeetUp app, I just had to say,YES! This isn't because I'm a great baker. The truth is I'm messy in the kitchen, and I like to sing. It's not pretty. However, I'll be baking Christmas cookies, and my thought is that if I can share some of my joy about baking Christmas cookies, then my Christmas will be very merry indeed! The best part is, I'll have two of my three sons in the kitchen with me. That means there's three times the potential baking chaos--just what the holidays call for. Honestly, nothing brings me more joy than baking with my kids!


If you'd like to get your Christmas cookie baking spirit on, please join us for our livestream Christmas cookie baking demo tomorrow, Thursday, December 15th from 3pm-4pm EST. If you click on the picture below, it will take you to the page where you can sign up for your link!




I'll be making two cookies from Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off plus a new favorite cookie of mine. In case you can't make it, and in the spirit of the holidays and cookies, I’d like to share this new cookie recipes with you. It’s a recipe for Almond Joy Cookie Bars, and if you like the candy bar, you’re going to love these cookies! It’s like a candy and a cookie all rolled into one. Best yet, they’re super easy to make!

Here’s what you’re going to need:



Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole almonds, toasted. (1 cup finely ground, 1 cup whole)

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 bag (14 oz) shredded coconut (more for sprinkling on top if desired)

12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips, whichever you prefer

Parchment paper (for baking)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place all the almonds on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until toasted, being careful not to burn almonds. Cool completely. Using a food processor, chop 1 cup of the almonds until somewhere between coarse and fine.

Line 9x 13 pan with parchment paper, letting the parchment hang over the sides for easy removal.


Make the crust:

Using a mixer, blend the butter and the sugar until combined. Next, blend in the flour and the salt until a nice dough forms.



Add in the 1 cup of chopped, toasted almonds, and mix until just combined.






Press in bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.




Bake in the preheated oven (350℉) for 5-6 minutes.


Make the filling:

While the crust is baking, combine the bag of coconut flakes with the can of sweetened condensed milk in a mixer and mix until well blended.




Gently spread the coconut mixture on top of the crust, being careful not to disturb the crust.




Put the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven.


Gently score the cookie into 24 squares.

Place a whole almond on each square.





Once the cookies have cooled, cut them and place them on a baking rack with more parchment paper under them.




Using a microwave or double boiler, melt the chocolate. If using a microwave, use short intervals of 30 seconds and stir well after each time to safely melt the chocolate.


Spread each cookie with the melted chocolate. If you’d like you can sprinkle some extra shredded coconut on each cookie to give it a more festive look. If you have any extra almonds, you can decorate the cookies with those too. Be creative!





Cool completely. Enjoy!



If you’d like to print a copy of this recipe, click HERE!


With warmest wishes for a very cozy, very merry, cookie-filled Christmas!

Happy reading & happy baking!

Love, Darci



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