Somehow, upon first glance, bars seem dowdy—bake-sale standbys without the perky melodiousness of “Christmas cookies” or the sex appeal of buche de noël. But when it comes to the fervour of holiday baking, these sensible fallbacks rise to MVP status—they’re easy to slice up and share, allow for much flavour experimentation, and, best of all, one is practically obliged to eat their perimeters in the name of “prettying them up.” “Dessert bars are a great holiday baking option because they are easy to prep, one-pan operations that don’t need to be cooked in batches like cookies do—a big plus during the busy holiday season,” says chef David Robertson of Vancouver’s Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen. “Plus, they make great gifts, for party hosts, the office, or your loved ones… You can gift a whole tray, or wrap them up individually with wax paper, twine, and a festive sprig of greens.” Robertson’s holiday standbys are his rich, salty-sweet dulce de leche-filled Dirty Twixter (“a dessert hybrid of my two favourite chocolate bars, Twix and Skor”) and fluffy, light, and incidentally gluten-free lemon bars—a humble classic he makes festive with the addition of candied cranberries and a deluge of powdered sugar. If one wants to get really “Martha”, Robertson suggests printing out the below recipes to accompany these edible gifts—not an obligatory move, but one which would, surely, raise the… bar.
Chef David Robertson’s bar recipes: