Every month I think things are going to settle down, and every month seems to get busier and more chaotic than the last. I can’t tell you how many times I earmarked a day on the calendar to make bars for this month’s What’s Baking? theme, how many times I pulled butter out of the fridge to soften only to put it back in the fridge later that day.
Thankfully, this month’s hostess, Nichole from Cookaholic Wife, was completely understanding when I emailed her this past weekend to see if I could get this post out a few days late. My in-laws, husband and daughter had just went to the movies and my Little Man was down for a nap, so I was going to whip up the bars, start this post, and hope the photos came out well. Nichole had agreed to to my plan just minutes before and the butter was melted… and Little Man woke up.
Needless to say, I managed to get the bars baked, photographed them before the family could eat them, and here I am, night before it’s due, writing my post. Big thanks to Nichole for letting me submit late!
These bars are part of my Operation Clean Out Freezer. Spring cleaning. My two freezers is in desperate need of it. (There’s inspiration for ya!)
Every year, I stash an extra bag of cranberries in my freezer for some recipe that is sure to strike my fancy during the year. As I was baking this, I couldn’t help thinking that this would be a great recipe for fall. The tart cranberries have a touch of sweetness from the sugar (and of course, the slightly sweet shortbread crust and streusel). This recipe is halved from the version in Fine Cooking Magazine, and rewritten, but not heavily adapted.
Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Fine Cooking, Dec 2006 (p. 75)
Makes 16 Bars
- 11 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 c. granulated sugar, divided
- 1/3 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 c. + 1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 6 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
Make Crust: Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine unsalted butter, 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. sugar, and salt. Whisk in egg yolk. Transfer 2/3-3/4 of it to the prepared pan, pressing along the bottom to cover. Use a fork to prick all over. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
While crust is in fridge, move a baking rack to upper third of the oven and preheat to 325F.
Bake the Crust & Prep the Rest: Remove from fridge and bake crust for 18-22 minutes, until crust is set and edges are beginning to brown.
While crust cooks, combine remaining dough with 2 Tbs. sugar, crumbling with clean fingers. Set aside.
In a small pan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/2 c. sugar, cranberries, and 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn. Lower heat slightly and continue to simmer until cranberries break down and mixture becomes a thick syrup, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
When crust is ready, remove oven and allow to cool slightly. Increase temperature on oven to 350F.
Assemble and Bake the Bars: When crust has cooled slightly, top with cranberry mixture, spreading to cover. Crumble streusel topping throughout.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and set. Do not overcook.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting.
Serve at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.