Thanksgiving might be over but cranberry season certainly isn't. I don't know what it is I love so much about cranberries. Actually, I do. Tartness. I love tart. I'm the kid that ate the lemon heads and not the jawbreakers. I'm the one who could eat lemon slices one by one. And, I'm the one who gets a secret pleasure out of hearing a pop when I bite into a cranberry that survived the boiling pot my cranberry sauce is made in. Yes, I'm that one.
Imagine my delight when I came across this recipe in
Fine Cooking for Cranberry Streusel Bars. I've had this issue of Fine Cooking for a few years now and consistently go back to it looking for ideas for cookies. I have made some great treats from this one magazine and this particular recipe is no exception.
I'm not sure what part of this bar is my favorite. I go back and forth. The bottom layer is similar to a shortbread cookie. It is a simple buttery cookie that is the perfect balance to the cranberry topping. It holds together well without crumbling all over your lap, but it also isn't dry like cardboard.
Yet, I do believe that the cranberries steal the show. It's like taking your cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and serving it on a cookie. The tart cranberries pair perfectly with the buttery shortbread, both with a hint of orange enjoyed in each bite. Add the crumble cookie topping and you have the perfect bar cookie with all of the flavors you love this time of year.
I changed two things from the original recipe. The first was increasing the sugar in the crust and decreasing the sugar in the topping. I didn't feel it was necessary to add in too much sugar in the crumble since it was already in there from the bottom layer.
The second thing I changed was adding a bit of orange flavor to the bars. I don't know why the thought of orange goes naturally with cranberries. The two accent each other very well. So, I decided to add orange zest to the dough and the juice of one orange to the cranberries. And, you can definitely taste the flavor of the oranges with every bite. It's subtle but it's there.
These bars store well for up to one week in a tightly sealed container, which of course makes them the perfect holiday gift or a treat to keep around the house while you're wrapping presents.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking magazine
Cranberry Cookie Bars
A delicious seasonal cookie bar that will delight all of your holiday senses. A butter cookie base, a tart cranberry center, and a cookie crumble topping that packs all of the flavors in one bite.
- 10 1/2 ounces (1 cup plus 5 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 cups of sugar plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 cups plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 orange orange zest
- 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
- juice of one orange
For the crust:
1. Prepare a 13x9 metal baking pan with foil. Leave enough overhang to allow for easy lifting once the bars have cooled. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan and allow to cool to a warm temperature. In a medium bowl, mix the cooled butter, 1 cup of the sugar, orange zest, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour until all of the ingredients are combined and the dough has a stiff consistency.
3. Using 2 cups of your dough, press evenly into your metal pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork in order to keep the dough from puffing up when it bakes in the oven. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 5 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes.
For the topping:
4. Add 2 Tablespoons of sugar to the remaining dough. Using your fingers, mix the dough with the sugar. It will crumble. Don't overdo it because you don't want it to be too sandy.
For the cranberry topping:
5. In a medium saucepan, bring the cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, the juice of one orange, and 1/4 cup of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high and continue cooking for 7 minutes until the mixture thickens. Stir continually. Let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Spread the cranberry mixture over the baked crust. Crumble the topping over top. Move an oven rack to a top shelf and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes.
7. Cool the bars on a wire rack for at least one hour before lifting out of the pan. Slice into 16 squares. Bars can be stored at room temperature for one week.
1 hour 45 mins