Nana’s Church Window Bars

One of my favorite collective childhood Christmas memories consists of me arriving at my grandparents’ home in Michigan where I would promptly enter my Nana’s kitchen and stroll to the end of the counter where she kept the beloved Folgers coffee tins.  Because, as you soon will see, these coffee tins contained various assortments of my Nana’s Christmas cookies.  She made them all.  Now that she’s gone, and I am a grown up, I understand the hard work, devotion, time, and love that went into her baking these cookies.  I wish I could go back in time and pay more attention as a child to her magic in the kitchen.  From her, I learned that a piece of fresh bread in those coffee tins would keep the cookies moist and fresh.  I learned that I loved the combination of molasses and raspberries, her lemon glaze, and the little red-hot candy “ornaments” that she would use to decorate her Christmas tree sugar cookies.  Ah, the memories.  I believe that we all have them.  The best part about this time of year is that I get to re-visit them and keep her holiday (and love for baking) spirit alive through these posts.

When she passed away, we all needed copies of her recipes.  My Aunt Lila lovingly put together an abbreviated typed document containing the most loved cookie/candy recipes.  I am hoping to put together a public and somewhat permanent recipe collection from both of my grandmothers, both amazing bakers.  Perhaps that’s one of the biggest reasons why I started this blog in the first place.  Because these recipes hold a very special place in my heart.

Which brings me to these Church Window Bars. Now, as a somewhat reluctant fan of the use of marshmallows in baking (I know, I know, I am missing out…), I embrace these little fruit-flavored sugar puffs with love, entirely because of this recipe.  When I was a kid (and still didn’t really like marshmallows all that much-I think it’s more of a consistency thing..) I would lick the chocolate/peanutty mixture off the marshmallows and leave the marshmallows behind.  But, as I grew older, I appreciated the texture, flavor, and whimsical color that they added to the bar.

So, when I saw these treats at my Nana’s house (all foiled in empty boxes of Velveeta cheese, which she had saved all year long for this purpose), I knew that it was that magical time of the year.  (Warm fuzzies.)

Here’s a gift to you from my Nana.

Church Window Bars

Servings: Four 5×2 and a 1/2-inch loaves


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

12 ounces (1 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

One 10.5 ounce bag of multi-colored miniature marshmallows

1 cup chopped peanuts

Shredded sweetened coconut (optional), for garnish


1.  Line four mini-loaf pans with aluminum foil (allow for some extra overhanging foil) and spray with cooking spray.  Alternatively, you could use a larger loaf pan to get one large bar, although I like the little pans.

2.  Place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove.

3.  Melt the butter in the bowl over low heat.

4.  Add the chocolate chips to the melted butter and stir until the chips melt completely, and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat.

5.  In a large bowl, combine the colored marshmallows and the nuts.

6.  Slowly add the melted chocolate to the bowl and stir to completely combine.

7.  At this point, I like to butter my hands and mold the mixture into rough rectangles.  Press the mixture into each loaf pan, making sure to fill every corner.  Sprinkle the tops with coconut, if using.

8.  Wrap each loaf tightly with the foil and chill overnight.

9.  Once completely chilled and firm, the bar can be sliced and served.

Source:  Passed down to me from Rita Ann Lacy. (original source unknown)

December 13, 2010 - 5:53 am

notyet100 - wow memories always make us feel so good,..;-)
will be happy if u send these bars for the jingle evnt on my blog,.;-)

December 13, 2010 - 11:52 am

Kelli - Hi Shan! These are absolutely beautiful! Miss you, friend! Hope your studying is going well!

December 13, 2010 - 3:48 pm

Sara - I actually typed them up several years ago after Aunt Lila faxed them to Mom. Nana’s handwriting was hard to read with all the different copies that had been made, so I figured they were better off consolidated in one document. I’ve always wanted to try them – Elliott LOVES marshmallows – I bet he’d get a huge kick out of them. Thanks for honoring our Nana in this way! 🙂

December 15, 2010 - 4:43 am

Jenny Nguyen - OMG I want a bite please! They look so great! :))

December 15, 2010 - 7:51 am

Liz - Love reading your sweet memories of your Nana…makes me think of mine, too…

December 15, 2010 - 7:59 am

Blog is the New Black - I have never seen anything like this before- simply gorgeous! Congrats on the top 9!

December 15, 2010 - 1:10 pm

Adriana - Wow! I came in to comment on the beautiful, unique cookies, but I loved your heartfelt post.

December 15, 2010 - 1:39 pm

briarrose - Wonderful treat and story. 🙂

December 15, 2010 - 3:27 pm

Emily Z - These bars are beautiful and the name for them is so fitting. Touching story about your memories of your grandmother and her baking. How nice of you to share her wonderful treasures with the rest of us. Congrats on making the Top 9. This is my first visit to your blog and I have enjoyed it.

December 15, 2010 - 9:10 pm

Terra - This blog brought back some fun childhood memories:) Love these!!! Congrats on the top 9 on Foodbuzz:)

December 15, 2010 - 10:52 pm

Somer - Oh my goodness these are so precious! I’m bookmarking these and trying them. My son will LOVE them. Beautiful work!

December 17, 2010 - 5:50 pm

shannon - Nana’s church windows are pretty cool!! Great Post and congrats on being named Foodbuzz’s Top 9!!! That is a pretty cool honor!!!

December 30, 2010 - 2:35 pm

Heidi - Just found your blog today, and as I was looking through saw this post. My granny made these every year also. I’m lucky to have her handwritten recipe and have taken to making these every year now that she is gone. She did hers a little differently though. She would lay out a long piece of wax paper, put a layer of coconut on the paper and then lay out the yummy gooeyness down the middle and roll. She would then wrap in foil and put in the fridge to chill.
I look forward to reading your posts in the new year. Hope it’s wonderful!

February 1, 2011 - 8:13 am

Threemealsaday - I just saw these on your blog and recognized these as what we call Mosaic cookies ( These have been a family favorite for years. There are minor variations between our two recipes. I have never heard this name for them before but I can see why they can be called that.

Great work on your blog. I will subscribe to it.


March 26, 2012 - 6:31 pm

Krista Hilton - My Nana made these too! It is always great to find out that other people have the same traditions 🙂

December 11, 2012 - 11:42 pm

loraine - Is there a trick to slicing these? I know neither chocolate or marshmallows cut well.

December 12, 2012 - 10:04 am

srlacy - Hi Loraine-
Actually once the bars are chilled, they are simple to slice. The ingredients hold together very well, believe it or not.

November 11, 2013 - 10:27 am

Katyammm - My mom used to make these all the time for Christmas in the 80’s. The recipe came from a magazine (something along the lines of Good Housekeeping). I remember there was a big spread of holiday cookies in the issue and this was one of them. As I recall, they were called stained glass cookies. Unfortunately, we lost it over the years. Thanks for posting the recipe!