By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 18, 2016 at 6:01 PM

There's nothing better than a quiet evening with family and friends nibbling sweet treats and sipping a holiday cocktail.

Make a new tradition by making these delicious blondies, filled with cream cheese filling and topped with festive sweet and salty bits. Even better, pair them up with creamy Tom & Jerry cocktails. They're so good, you just might make you forget all about eggnog.

Holiday Everything Bars

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake filling:
1 cup (8 ounces) Wisconsin mascarpone cheese
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar

Topping:
1 1/2 cups pretzel twists
1 cup red and green M&Ms candy
8 ounces white chocolate
1/4 cup candy canes, crushed into small pieces

Directions: Heat oven to 350°F. In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread 2/3 of the mixture over bottom of 9x13-inch pan.

For cheesecake filling: In separate bowl, whisk mascarpone, egg and powdered sugar. Spread over blondie dough in pan. Top with spoonsful of remaining blondie dough. (Dough will not fully cover mascarpone layer.)

For topping: Press pretzels into dough. Bake 35 minutes, or until center is set. Immediately press M&Ms into top of bars. Cool completely. In microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate 30 seconds to melt. Continue to heat in 10-second increments if necessary. Using piping bag or back of a spoon, drizzle white chocolate over cooled bars. Immediately top with candy cane pieces. Allow white chocolate to set before cutting into bars and serving.

Tom & Jerry cocktails

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Servings: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

Batter:
1 cup (8 ounces) Wisconsin mascarpone cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
6 pasteurized eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar *

Cocktails:
1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) milk
Rum
Brandy
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Directions:

Batter: In large bowl, mix mascarpone and powdered sugar until combined; set aside. In medium mixer bowl, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla, nutmeg, cloves and allspice; mix to incorporate. Add yolk mixture to mascarpone mixture and stir well; set aside.

In large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form (when egg whites form sharp peaks that hold their shape when lifted with beater). Gently fold egg whites into mascarpone mixture stirring until combined. Batter can be used immediately or frozen ** in tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Cocktails: Heat milk in heavy pot over medium-low heat. For each cocktail, add 1 heaping tablespoon batter to mug. Top with 4 ounces hot milk, 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce brandy. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg to taste.

* Omit cream of tartar if not using pasteurized eggs
** Use an ice cream scoop to scoop frozen batter.

More recipes

Find more great recipes – including great brunch recipes that will make your holidays easier – in the 2016 holiday issue of Grate. Pair. Share., an online magazine dedicated to all things Wisconsin cheese.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.