Recipe: cranberry bar cookies
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend whether you celebrate it or not. The nicest surprise of the day for me was seeing my “Christmas” cactus bloom. They always call them Christmas cacti, but all of mine bloom at Halloween (yay!) or Thanksgiving. My Halloween blooms are red, but my Thanksgiving blooms are white and they came from cuttings that my mom had brought me a while ago. I let her know on Thanksgiving that there were pretty flowers opening. Hers was blooming too and she told me that Grandma had originally given her the cuttings for her plant. That tugged at my heart. Everything my grandma touched was special.
We kept our Thanksgiving low key and enjoyed a gorgeous day out in the snow working up an appetite. It’s early season. There’s decent snow in the backcountry, but a lot of the approaches are still sketch with bare spots, wind drifts, and plenty of ice – so we hoofed it in until we reached solid snow and could skin in. I happened to pack turkey sandwiches for lunch (why not?) which we scarfed down in the trees on our way out. Turkey never tasted soooo good.
enough snow to switch to the skis
I refused to shop Black Friday.
But the day after… Have you heard about Shop Local Saturday? It’s a push to support small local businesses. I had been researching waxless touring skis for over a year and we decided it was time for an upgrade. Neptune Mountaineering is my favorite mountaineering store in Boulder. They have a great selection of technical gear (it really puts REI to shame) and their staff is wicked knowledgeable because they DO IT ALL. We did our part and supported this beloved local business. We supported them A LOT because we each got boots, bindings, and skis.
we’ll call this a health and fitness investment
See, we needed something to counteract the weight we were gaining from eating treats out of this book:
CakeSpy is Jessie Oleson, a delightfully quirky, talented, funny, and creative woman in Seattle. And she is so SWEET! I had the pleasure of meeting Jessie this past Spring at her shop/gallery and instantly fell in love with her illustrations of cupcakes, cakes, pies, doughnuts, and any other sweet you can imagine. So her publisher sent me her book a few months back. It has ridiculously cute recipes like cupcake-stuffed cupcakes, s’moreos, blondie topped brownies, toaster pastry ice cream sandwiches, and red velvet cake shake to name a few. What caught my eye was the section on seasonal sweets – in particular the leftover cranberry sauce bar cookies. A way to use up leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving. Clever.
flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, butter, eggs, cranberry sauce, almonds, light corn syrup, vanilla
to make the crust: flour, butter, salt, sugar
mixing the dough
pressing into the pan
Jessie’s recipe said to press the dough up the sides of the pan by about 1/2 inch. I sort of followed that advice, but didn’t really. I’m here to tell you your life will be a lot happier if you do it. Otherwise you will have 1) a heck of a time getting the bars out of the pan and 2) a lot of burnt gooey sugar on the edge of your pan. The bars are layers of a delicate cookie base, cranberry sauce, nuts, and the almost butterscotchy syrup that binds it all together (kind of like the One Ring, but much happier).
the syrup: butter, brown sugar, eggs, light corn syrup, vanilla
pour it into a saucepan and bring to a simmer
when slightly cooled, whisk the eggs in
This one is quick to assemble, especially if you have leftover cranberry sauce hanging around the house, which you very well might have! And even if you don’t, it’s easy enough to make your own or go out and buy some because these bars are a gooey, sticky, sweet treat.
spread cranberry sauce over the cooled crust
sprinkle nuts over the cranberry sauce
pour the syrup over the nuts
cut when completely cooled
The bar cookies are a combination of tender shortbread-like crust, tart cranberry flavor, crunchy toasted nuts, and a sticky sweetness. A little bit of everything in a single cheery bite. This is a fun way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce after the Thanksgiving feast. In addition to the other ingenious recipes, Jessie has a whole chapter dedicated to sweet treat suggestions after various holidays. And of course, every recipe is accompanied by Jessie’s adorable and witty illustrations. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself.
thanksgiving keeps on giving
Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life from Sasquatch Books with no obligations. All opinions expressed are my own.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bar Cookies
from CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life by Jessie Oleson
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I assumed light brown sugar)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups cranberry sauce or 1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups toasted nuts of your choice (I used almonds)
Oven: 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (paddle attachment) on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape the sides down periodically. It should take about two minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan and be sure to press the edges 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan (this prevents crazy sticky messes in the end… as me how I know this). Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Reduce oven to 325°F. In a medium saucepan, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla over medium heat until mixture has melted and formed a thick syrup. Continue stirring over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges, but not boiling. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the beaten eggs, stirring vigorously. Set aside. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the top of the baked and cooled crust (or sprinkle the dried cranberries evenly over the crust). Scatter the nuts over the cranberries. Pour the liquid sugar mixture over everything. If it’s thick (mine wasn’t thick) the try to get even coverage over the entire pan. Use a spatula to spread it, but take care not to disrupt the fragile crust layer. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the filling is lightly bubbling on the sides and looks firm in the middle. Cool completely before cutting as the filling will firm up as the bars cool. Makes 18 bars.