Apparently 2012 is my ‘Year of the Cranberry.’Cranberry White Chocolate Blondies_4

Until recently, I’ve never really had any interest in them. I guess it’s because my mom used to put them in everything. EVERYTHING.

Stuffing? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Brussel sprouts? Check. I never knew where they were going to strike next.

Honestly I’m not really sure what inspired me to start cooking with them again. Maybe it was the sweet potato salad from Liberty Market. Maybe it was when Finley asked if we could buy a bag of Craisins from Target and I jumped at the chance of him willingly eating something other than Pirate’s Booty and/or cereal. Either way, I’m glad I did. They’re pretty darn good, and versatile.

Yes, this is me admitting that maybe my mom was right all along. However, I do solemnly swear not to force them into places they do not belong. (cough, cough… brussel sprouts… cough, cough)

There’s not doubt they belong in these.

Winter Blondies
makes one 8 x 8″ pan
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 egg (room temperature)
2 tsp dark spiced rum
1/2 tbsp fresh orange zest
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used Cherry Juice Infused Craisins)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Dark Chocolate Ganache
3 oz dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8 x 8″ glass baking dish then line with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and whisk until smooth and shiny. Add the egg, rum and orange zest and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Gently fold in the cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips then spread into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is a nice light golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for around an hour then lift out using the parchment paper as handles and cut the blondies into triangle shaped pieces. (Don’t throw away the edges… I have a little trick up my sleeve for those later. Trust me, it’s good.)

To make the dark chocolate ganache, bring the heavy cream to just a boil then pour over the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Let the chips sit for just a minute then whisk to melt until smooth and shiny. Using a fork, drizzle the ganache over the blondie triangles.

These just taste like winter to me. The dried cranberries pair exceptionally well with the freshness of the orange zest, spiciness of the rum, rich buttery crunch of the pecans and creamy sweetness of the white chocolate. The addition of just a taste of rich dark chocolate has them teetering right on the edge of downright sinful. Zoinkies.

Cranberry White Chocolate Blondies_3

Speaking of sinful, remember when I gently nudged you to salvage the edges after cutting the blondies? Well, I hope you saved the extra chocolate ganache too. Because if you break the edges into bite-sized pieces and grab a few toothpicks (or if you’re fancy like me, a few fondue skewers) they make perfect dippers.

Yes, mom will be proud. Very proud indeed.