Confetti Cookie Bars.

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Confetti brownies. We’ll get back to these.

Santa came! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas… I can’t believe it’s almost New Year’s already! I’m so excited for 2011 and I can’t wait to see all the exciting stuff I hope this year brings my way. I don’t usually make resolutions (at least publicly & written on the internet), but one of my biggest goals for this year is to keep writing in this blog and baking. I love it (and everyone who’s in the kitchen when I’m trying out new recipes seems to love it too), but now that Christmas is over, I feel less compelled to bake.
Not that I have a choice… nearly everything Santa my family and friends gave me this Christmas had to do with baking (or vampires… don’t judge me. I have an unhealthy addiction to The Vampire Diaries & True Blood.)
For example, this. It’s adorable. Do you know what it is?

Measuring cups. I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m in love.

Decorating tips! I can’t wait to play with frosting.
Even my stocking stuffers had to do with baking!
Mini martini glasses. For when baking gets stressful?
I also got a new brownie pan and immediately used it to make these cookie bars for New Year’s Eve…
Confetti cookie bars! The mini M&Ms in them make really festive, like confetti, and I love the crushed pretzels in them.
Happy New Year!

Confetti  Bars (Chocolate Chip M&M Cookie Pretzel Bars)

Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini M&Ms
1 cup pretzels, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Using a mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about one minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. On low speed, beat in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chip, mini M&Ms, and crushed pretzels.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan, pressing down with a spatula. Sprinkle a few M&Ms on top, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. The middle might be a little gooey, but it’s okay; the bars will set up. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool completely.
On average, two restaurants a week closed in the year to the end of March, including casual dining chains, as well as upmarket and independent establishments, according to the latest data from analysts CGA and corporate advisory firm AlixPartners. Graeme Smith, the managing director of AlixPartners, said he expected restaurant numbers to continue to drop throughout the year as large chains in particular slim down. There have already been high-profile closures by burger chain Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, the Prezzo Group and Sir Terence Conran’s Albion restaurants, but more large chains and independents are expected to suffer. “It’s easy to say this is a crisis in casual dining,” said Peter Martin at CGA. “This is a crisis happening for everyone.” Restaurants are suffering because the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has made ingredients more expensive while staff costs have risen, partly due to increases in the minimum wage. Economic uncertainty has stalled growth in the sector just as competition has increased after a surge in openings partly fuelled by private equity investment.
Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

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