Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars

Sharing a holiday family favorite today!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!

We’ve officially entered the month of December, which means it’s officially okay for me to start sharing all of the cookie and bar recipes I’m loving this year, and these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars are no exception.

I mean, these bars have so many layers of goodness, packing tons of indulgent, delicious flavor into every bite. They are incredibly rich (which is why they are dubbed “grutch” bars in our household) so a little serving goes a long way, but they are just too decadent to pass up. There’s a reason these are my mom’s most requested baked good from us kids once Christmas rolls around!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are insanely delicious and bound to be an instant hit over the holidays.

So here’s what all goes into said Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars (since I couldn’t reasonably fit every ingredient in the recipe title):

A layer of OG graham cracker crust
Flaked coconut
Chopped walnuts or pecans (you choose your fave! I love both.)
Butterscotch chips
Chocolate chips
And, finally, a hefty drizzle of condensed milk

Now, if that doesn’t make you just start drooling already, I don’t know what will!

Seriously though, this combination is deadly and I’m thinking I need to find multiple other ways to combine all these flavors in different types of baked goods to whip up throughout the year. Once every 12 months is not enough. What do you think? Any ideas?

So many layers of goodness in these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars!

The other thing I love about this recipe (besides how insanely tasty it is) is how easy it is to make. I mean, you don’t even need a mixing bowl, people!! That’s right, we layer everything right into the baking dish and pop it into the oven. And seeing as I have a newborn attached to me prettttty much 24/7, this is just the kind of recipe I need if I have any hope of baking up any sweet treats this year.

One little bit of advice: As tempting as it may be, practice all your will power not to cut into these bad boys before they are completely cool. In fact, you may want to pop them into the refrigerator for a little bit to reset after they are done baking and before you slice. Otherwise, you may have a bit of a crumbly mess on your hands (although if this ever happens to me I use it as an excuse to “taste test” and proceed to probably eat the equivalent of one or two entire bars in crumbs.)

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love all of the sweets and treats recipes that show up on blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. this time of year. I find that I’m always super ambitious at the beginning of the month and bookmark tons of recipes to try, only to fall back on a few favorites once I realize how little free time I actually have. This year, I’m already being forced to slow down a bit with the baby and all, and I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself as far as getting in the kitchen. I try to cook or bake a little something every day, but if it happens, great and if it doesn’t, I’ve got a beautiful baby girl to spend this special time with.

Give the gift of these indulgent Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars this holiday season!

The good news is, I know mom will be making plenty of Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars to keep us satisfied, at least until the New Year when it will really be time for me to get my butt back into pre-pregnancy shape!

Until then, do you have any favorite family recipes to share with me for the holiday season? I’d love to see them or Pin them for future, so please leave ‘em in the comments below! Xx

5 from 1 vote
These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!
Print
Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These decadent bars are full of so many layers of goodness they're bound to be a hit with your friends and family this holiday season.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 degrees Fahrenheit if using a glass pan.) 

  2. Melt butter in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish and sprinkle on graham cracker crumbs. Press down lightly to form a crust.

  3. Sprinkle, in layers, the coconut, nuts, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.

  4. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over the top, trying your best to avoid getting any on the inside of the pan.

  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

  6. Cool completely before cutting into bars. You may want to refrigerate the bars once they have cooled slightly to speed the process along and prevent the bars from becoming too crumbly. 

  7. Keep in a resealable container either at room temperature (if it’s not too warm wherever you are) or in the refrigerator. 

Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups

Let’s kick off the week with another easy appetizer recipe!

A tray of Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups will be a huge hit at your next holiday party!

I hope you all had a restful, relaxing weekend filled with lots of fun and holiday cheer. Ours was about as exciting as can be with a one-month old and was made even better by the enjoyment of these Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups, which I am officially dubbing the “it” easy, healthy recipe of the season.

That’s right, these Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are incredibly simple to make, yet so full of flavor you’d never guess they’re actually one of the healthiest appetizers you can add to your repertoire in this month of endless get-togethers and celebrations.

Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are an easy, healthy appetizer for any get-together.

Oh, and did I mention they only require five ingredients? That’s right! No special grocery store trips or endless hours slaving over the stove to whip up these delicious bites of heaven. You can grab everything you need at your neighborhood grocery store and have a beautiful tray of Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups ready to bring to your next holiday party in less than 20 minutes.

Speaking of those easy-to-find ingredients, here they are!

Cream cheese
Dried dill
Fresh chives
Persian cucumbers
Smoked salmon

See what I mean? Never been easier.

These Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups are the best holiday appetizer to make this year!

I think I’ve made it pretty clear why I love these tasty tidbits and want to make them for every occasion for the foreseeable future – they’re easy, healthy, composed of just a few ingredients and yet so full of flavor. Plus, I really missed my regular intake of smoked salmon when I was preggo with our baby girl so I’m making up for lost time 😉

I’m not going to keep you long today because, if there’s anything that’s a constant this time of year, it’s that we don’t have much spare time on our hands to sit reading blogs all day. There are more important things to do and people to spend time with!

But, in case you’re looking for a few other appetizer ideas to whip up this season, here are a few of my favorites from the archives…

These Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates

This Butternut Squash Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage

These Spiced Rosemary Bar Nuts

This Creamy Mushroom Pate

And these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pears with Creamy Blue Cheese.

Read on for the Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Up recipe!

A tray of Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups will be a huge hit at your next holiday party!
Print
Five-Ingredient Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Roll-Ups
Prep Time
15 mins
 

This easy, no-cook appetizer is full of flavor yet requires just five ingredients. It's the perfect healthy contribution to your next get-together!

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 30 pieces
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 4-5 Persian cucumbers
  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 30 strips
  • 30 toothpicks
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the whipped cream cheese, dill and chives until combined. 

  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumbers lengthwise to form long, wide strips and lay out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  3. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag and cut off the tip. Squeeze a line of the cream cheese onto each strip of cucumber. 

  4. Place a strip of smoked salmon on top of each cream cheese-lined cucumber and roll up the cucumber, securing at the end with a toothpick. Refrigerate until ready to serve!

 

Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini

I mean, what better way to kick off our cocktails for the month of December?

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the perfect easy cocktail to whip up all through the month of December!

This Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the epitome of what a December cocktail should look like. It features two of the biggest winter produce stars – cranberries and clementines – and gets jazzed up with good ol’ vodka plus a dash of Grand Marnier. I mean, who doesn’t want to sip on something this tasty all through the most festive month of the year?

Okay serious talk here – I realize I do not have too many martini recipes here on the blog, and that’s simply because I’m usually not a straight-up martini kind of gal. I just can’t seem to get down with olives/olive juice and/or onions flavoring my cocktails. And sorry to all my vodka-lovers out there, but I usually tend to lean towards booze with a little more inherent flavor (I’m looking at you, gin and bourbon) rather than more mildly-flavored vodka.

BUT give me a martini that is full of fresh clementine juice, tangy cranberry juice AND Grand Marnier on top of that vodka? Yes, please. I will take a Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini any day!

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the perfect way to kick off a holiday weekend.

I honestly don’t know why I haven’t thought to use fresh clementine juice in more of my cocktails before now. I mean, at this time of year grocery stores are chock full of those huge bags of them, and I don’t know about you but I unfailingly only get about halfway through before I notice them starting to go bad. And it breaks my heart to have to throw them away. After tasting this delicious concoction, I now know I just need to juice some of those bad boys up and grab my trusty cocktail shaker so I can be sipping on said Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini in no time at all.

That’s my kind of holiday cocktail.

Festive Cranberry Clementine Martinis are THE holiday cocktail you should be making this year!

So tell me, who has exciting plans for this weekend? We are taking a weekend to lay a little low (I mean, who are we kidding, we have a one-month old, laying low is our life) because next weekend we’re heading up north again to celebrate my dad’s birthday and cut down our Christmas tree. If nothing else, our baby girl will be quite the seasoned traveler by the end of the year!

There always seems to be a plethora of holiday celebrations and events that kick off as soon as we get through Thanksgiving, so I hope you’re up to something fun and festive these next few days. No matter what your plans, I hope you can work in making (and consuming) a Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini or two!

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is easy to make and a real crowd pleaser.

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the perfect easy cocktail to whip up all through the month of December!
Print
Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This martini is full of holiday flavor with the freshest in season produce and a little hint of something special to give it an extra-festive kick.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 ounce fresh clementine juice
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Clementine wheel, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. 

  2. Strain through the lid into a martini glass. 

  3. Garnish with a clementine wheel and enjoy!

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses

The perfect holiday treat!

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

And I can guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one. If you’re at all familiar with a certain popular candy store’s holiday offerings, these little nuggets of heaven I’ve dubbed “Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses” likely look like something you’ve seen before gracing their shelves before. If not, then prepare to be wowed by a delicious homemade holiday goodie that will put your standard cookie and fudge platters to shame. You’ve been warned.

I generally claim to have no preference between cooking and baking (yes, I’m one of those rare birds), but when the holidays roll around, all I want to do is bake up tasty treats and goodies. I’m a sucker for everything from cookies to coffee cakes, and would happily give up candy bars in exchange for baked goods any day of the week.

Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a great addition to any holiday cookie trays you plan on handing out to friends this year.

That’s why I’m so lucky to have partnered with Sonoma Syrup Co. this holiday season to create some super tasty treats using their syrups, extracts, etc. I kicked off the fall season with these Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats, then took advantage of my pumpkin obsession by whipping up this Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake with Amaretti Crumble. For the month of December, I wanted to showcase their super-fragrant and fresh Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush,” and what better way to do so than with some Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses?

To be honest, this was also somewhat of a self-challenge on my part. You see, homemade marshmallows (and heck, even homemade caramel) have been on my list of “Things That Intimidate Me” for quite some time now. But heck, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to not only challenge myself with new projects in the kitchen but also encourage you, my dear readers, to challenge YOURSELVES with cooking adventures that may have previously been holding you back.

Sure, homemade marshmallows require some special ingredients like silver gelatin sheets and acetate (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!) and a careful eye on the stovetop, but when you break things down they’re really not that complicated…and so much tastier than the store-bought stuff! And who better to turn to than the man Thomas Keller for guidance? I referred to his Bouchon Bakery marshmallow recipe for this first little foray into the ‘mallow world, and as usual was thankful for his overly detailed instructions and step-by-step guide.

These Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are a fun and festive treat for the holidays.

To give the marshmallows an extra-special hit of flavor, I turned to the aforementioned Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush”. I tell ya, it’s amazing what just a little dash of this stuff brings to the table when dressing up a holiday goodie! I’m not even exaggerating when I say you can easily tell that they use only the highest quality Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla as the ingredients. It puts any other mass-produced vanilla extract to shame!

So, after we have the marshmallows made and chilled (carefully following the instructions – I promise it’s not too hard!) we make our super-simple caramel coating. And when I say super simple, I mean super simple – we’re talking just two ingredients and a saucepan away from having a huge batch of Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses ready for all your holiday gift-giving needs. Simply melt together some store-bought caramels with a little bit of heavy cream, let it cool slightly, and you’re ready to dip!

It’s important that you start with the marshmallows frozen so that they don’t melt into a gloppy puddle as soon as you dip them into the warm caramel. It’s equally as important to use parchment paper rather than wax paper when letting your caramel-dipped marshmallows set in the refrigerator and for wrapping them once they are ready to go (I learned this the hard way!)

I know this may all sound intimidating and time-consuming, but I promise, promise, PROMISE these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses are well worth the little extra TLC they require. I also pinky promise that throwing a handful of these on any cookie or treat platter you happen to be bringing over to a friend or neighbor this season will be very well-received. Don’t be surprised if you leave them asking for more!

Change up your usual cookie platter this holiday season by adding some of these Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses!

You can find the recipe below, and head on over to Sonoma Syrup Co. to order their Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” ASAP for all of your holiday baking needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.
Print
Homemade Caramel Covered Marshmallow Kisses
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Vanilla-laced homemade marshmallows are covered in a soft yet chewy caramel to make the perfect sweet treat for the holidays and beyond!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the vanilla marshmallows*:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 4 sheets Silver Leaf gelatin
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" (or other vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Special equipment for marshmallows:
  • 8 inch square baking dish
  • 8 inch square piece of acetate
  • Candy thermometer
For the caramel coating:
  • 22 ounces individually packaged caramels
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. First, make the marshmallows. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

  2. Line 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap and sprinkle the wrap generously with the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. Set the rest of the powdered sugar mixture aside.

  3. Place the gelatin in an ice bath to soften.

  4. Spray one side of the acetate with nonstick cooking spray, set aside (sprayed side up.)

  5. Prepare a bain marie by placing a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan filled with just two inches of water over medium high heat. 

  6. Remove the gelatin from the ice bath and squeeze dry, place in prepared bain marie. Cook until the gelatin is melted, the reduce heat and keep warm. 

  7. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

  8. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then simmer an additional 5 minutes or so, or until the temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  9. Let the syrup continue to cook and turn the stand mixer on medium speed to start whipping the egg whites. The goal is for the egg whites to be forming medium peaks around the same time the syrup in the saucepan reaches 281-284 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the syrup reaches this temperature, remove it from the heat. If your egg whites start forming medium peaks before the syrup is done, lower the speed on the mixer slightly.

  10. Add the syrup to the egg whites by slowly pouring it down the side as you have the mixer on low. 

  11. Pour in the prepared gelatin and increase the mixer speed to medium-high, about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and glossy, warm but not hot. 

  12. Spray a spatula with nonstick cooking spray and use it to spread the marshmallow mixture into the prepared baking pan that has been lined with plastic wrap. 

  13. Top the spread out mixture with the prepared piece of acetate, sprayed side down, and gently press it down. 

  14. Let mixture stand at room temperature for a few hours to set. 

  15. Once mixture is cooled and set, remove the acetate and coat the top with the reserved powdered sugar mixture as necessary. 

  16. Spray a chef’s knife with nonstick cooking spray and cut the marshmallows into squares, cleaning and re-spraying the knife between each cut. 

  17. Coat the marshmallows with more of the powdered sugar mixture as needed so they are not too sticky. 

  18. Place marshmallows on a cookie sheet or two lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least one hour before dipping in caramel.

  19. Once marshmallows are sufficiently frozen (this will help ensure they don’t melt into nothing as soon as you dip them in the caramel), start preparing the caramel.

  20. Remove the wrappers from the caramels and add them to a small saucepan with the heavy cream over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the caramels melt. 

  21. Once the caramels and heavy cream have melted together and combined to form a creamy caramel, turn off the heat. Using two forks (or spoons, or a combo of both) dunk the marshmallows in so they are sufficiently coated. Place dipped caramels back on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and refrigerate until caramel is hardened even to remove the kisses from the parchment paper.

  22. Individually wrap the caramels in small pieces of parchment paper and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (They can stand a short period of time at room temperature, but for longer periods be sure to keep them cool.)

Recipe Notes

*Recipe for vanilla marshmallows adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil

Easing back from the long holiday weekend with the simplest of recipes for you!

This Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is incredibly easy to make and adds tons of flavor to any dish!

In fact, much like my Three-Ingredient Calabrian Chili Spread, this Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is so simple that I even hesitated to share it with you all. But guys, it’s just as the recipe title says – stupid simple – and will be such a life-changing addition to your pantry that I just couldn’t NOT share it with you all. So here goes!

Flavored olive oils have been gracing grocery and specialty store shelves for quite some time now but, to be honest, do we really know where those “flavors” are coming from? Are your favorite flavored olive oils that you buy at the store done so artificially? Are you absolutely positive that all the flavoring comes from the freshest ingredients? Are you sure you want to drop a few extra bucks on the so-called high end “fancy stuff” when you could just as easily invest in a Costco size jug of extra-virgin olive oil and flavor it on your own for pennies on the dollar?

If you’re anything like me, I’m going to guess you’re in the latter camp, which makes Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil the next best thing to hit your kitchen table this holiday season.

Use this Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil as a dip for your favorite bread, or use it in place of regular olive oil for cooking and dressing salads!

Sure, making your own Shallot Oil requires just two simple ingredients, but the ways in which you can use it are endless. We love whipping up a batch to dip pizza in (ranch dressing, you can take a back seat) and I also used it in place of the regular olive oil I called for in this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs. Basically, you can add a dash of Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil to any ol’ dish that calls for olive oil to really up the flavor game (just make sure the crowd you’re entertaining is down for boatloads of flavor!)

As far as the making of this deliciousness goes, it really couldn’t be easier. Simply slice up some shallots, throw them in a bottle with some olive oil, let it sit for a day or two and, voila, you now know why we dub this tasty concoction “Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil.”

A bottle of Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is the perfect holiday or housewarming gift!

Grab the recipe below and let me know what great ways you end up using it!

This Stupid Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil is incredibly easy to make and adds tons of flavor to any dish!
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Super Simple Two-Ingredient Shallot Oil
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This homemade flavored olive oil is perfect to have on hand in your own pantry, or to give as a hostess or holiday housewarming gift.

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 2 cups
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a glass bottle with a stopper and/or drizzle lid. Let sit for a day or two before using.