Well, ‘tis the season of excess, and these festive cranberry bars are no exception. I’ll be the first to admit that these babies have a ton of sugar, but they also have the redeeming power of antioxidant-rich cranberries.
I have done me best to minimize the sugar in the cranberry mixture, so don’t skimp (I think any less and the filling is more reminiscent of cherry Nyquil than dancing sugarplums). So cut loose, make a batch of these rich and satisfying beauties, and share them with your neighbors and friends.
For the Crust:
1 stick cold butter, cut into chunks
2/3 C. whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 C. AP flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
approx. 1/3 C. ice cold water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking dish or two roughly equivalent smaller dishes with foil or parchment paper and grease generously with butter or spray.
Place the dry ingredients and cold butter into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 8-10 times for just a second each time to combine. Pour the contents into a medium bowl and add about half of the cold water. Stir gently with your fingers or a fork, adding more water if necessary, until dough just comes together. Do not overmix.
Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan(s) to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Dock the dough with fork all over its surface. Be thorough.
Place into the 350 oven for 25 minutes to partially cook. The dough may temporarily puff up in some places, but will settle down again once set aside to cool. Cool at least 30 minutes.
For the Cranberry Filling:
5 C. cranberries (about 1 1/2 bags)
1 3/4 C sugar
1 orange, both zest and juice (don’t forget to zest it first)
Place all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 15 – 20 minutes, continuing to stir regularly, until sauce has thickened considerably. Set aside to cool.
For the Streusel Topping:
1 C. AP flour
1 C. old fashioned oats
1 C. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small chunks
Combine all ingredients except oats in a food processor, pulsing again about 8-10 times until well combined. Tranfer to a medium bowl, stir in oats, and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble and bake bars.
To assemble bars, scoop the cooled cranberry mixture onto the cooled crust, spreading as evenly as possible with the back of a spoon. Crumble the streusel mixture on top, covering the cranberry completely. Bake at 350 for an additional 25 minutes, or until the streusel topping is just beginning to brown.
Cool thoroughly, ideally overnight in the fridge. Once cold, carefully remove the whole panful of bars by lifting up on the foil or parchment. Peel the foil or paper away and place on a cutting board. Slice into equally sized bars.
For best results, store the bars in a plastic bag or tightly sealing container in the fridge, allowing them to come to room temperature before serving. I like mine zapped in the microwave for about 15 seconds and eaten with a fork. My husband broug