Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cranberry Crumb Bars

Rough-chopped cranberries

It's very likely that I could do a week just on cranberries, I love them that much. And October through December is the prime time to snatch them up at the store. If you can't use them right away, toss the fresh ones directly into the freezer for later.

The recipe today is going towards my Christmas baking goals, but these bars are fantastic for any time of the year. I would also like to point out that there is no egg in this recipe and the butter can be substituted out with margarine for a dairy-free dessert.

Let's get the oven preheated to 400 if you are using a glass 9x13 baking pan; 375 if you are using a metal pan. Spray the pan and line it with aluminum foil, spray again-leave enough foil to hang over the edges for easy removal later.

Now, let's gather the ingredients.

For the crust you will need:

1 1/2 sticks of butter (or margarine)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (*optional)

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl, blend the remaining dry ingredients and add to the butter mixer. This will form a crumbly mixture-don't try to make it all come together; crumbly=good.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan combine these items:
2 cups  roughly chopped fresh or frozen cranberries-this is about 10 oz (the bags are 12 oz).
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 cup water

Bring the berries up to a rolling boil. Stir occasionally and reduce the heat once the filling comes to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so the berries don't stick to the bottom of the pan (if this seems like it's happening-reduce the heat further).
The filling will eventually cook down to the consistency of ketchup, with a few chunks of the berries here and there. Set aside while you prepare the crust.

bottom crust

Divide the crumb mixture in half and press one half into the bottom of the pan. For a clean edge, be sure to avoid pressing the crust up the sides of the pan any.

filling layer-pretty

Next, spread the filling across the crust evenly all the way to the edges.

crumb top-don't press in

Use the second half of the crust mixture to sprinkle across the top evenly-be sure the corners look like the center in coverage.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until evenly golden across the top. Remove the pan and cool before trying to cut it.

When serving, you can cut these bars into small triangles dusted with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation or in large squares with ice cream for dessert.

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