Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Crumb Bars

Happy almost Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful loving family, great friends, and amazing fiance. My job at a wonderful organization. Food, especially cheese and chocolate. The gorgeous wedding dress that I just ordered (!!). My cozy apartment and cute neighborhood with all the most delicious bakeries and restaurants packed onto one block. I could keep going! What are you thankful for this year?

Do you guys read Smitten Kitchen? If you don't, you must! Deb, the writer and photographer, not only takes incredible photos but creates simple, reliable recipes. Her blog is the first one I look to when I need to find a recipe or I need inspiration. So of course I was SO excited when the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out last month! I dropped the ball on ordering it so I just got it in the mail this week and spent hours flipping through it, bookmarking the recipes I want to try (which turned out to be nearly all of them).

These Cranberry Crumb Bars are the perfect holiday dessert - lightly spiced, with a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Let's be honest, very few of us actually want to eat a big piece of heavy cake or pie after a hearty holiday dinner. Make these instead!

Cranberry Crumb Bars (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups (12 oz) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Deb recommends lining the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper - I didn't have any and just greased the pan with butter, which worked fine! In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. With a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers, work the chilled butter and the egg into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal.  Pour half the crumb base into the prepared baking pan and use your fingers to press it evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the filling, pulse all ingredients in a blender or food processor until the berries are roughly chopped (I may have taken mine a little too far but it still worked!).

Spread the cranberry filling over the crust base, and sprinkle the remaining crumb topping over the top.

Bake the bars for 30 to 35 minutes, until light brown on top. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

The bars are perfect served with vanilla ice cream on the side...yum!

Oh, one more thing - I'm thankful for Poppy. Especially thankful that she didn't jump on the table and start eating the bars I was trying to photograph!