Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cranberry Apple Shortbread Bars

I love shortbread, and the combination of cranberries and apples, so when this recipe hit my Pinterest feed (oh, how I love Pinterest!), I knew I had to make them! These bars would make a great addition to the Thanksgiving dessert table.  They can be made in advance (store tightly wrapped at room temperature), then just cut and put on a serving platter. I can honestly tell you they are even good for breakfast, with a cup of coffee. I'm sure that negated my Pilates workout!

The bars are not overly sweet.  The sweetness is mostly in the crust.  The cranberries add a little tartness.  The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup sugar in the filling and I wondered if that would be sweet enough, as cranberries are very tart. I was happy with the end result, they were plenty sweet. And, yes, there is a lot of butter in this recipe.  It's shortbread, lots of butter and sugar!
I made these on a day when I was watching my 10-month old grandson.  In between feedings, diaper changes, and playing, I got them done.  I made the filling ahead of time and left at room temperature until I was able to bake the bars.

Cranberry Apple Shortbread Bars

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups (one bag) fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 medium peeled and chopped apples (I used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that some of the paper hangs over the side.

Beat butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy; mix in vanilla until well-combined.

Stir in flour, just until combined.

Press half of the dough into prepared baking pan (I found using an offset spatula was easier than my hands).  Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Shape remainder of dough into a disk and wrap tightly with  plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator.

In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, cornstarch, ginger, and nutmeg.  Cook, over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit has formed a thick jam-like consistency, about 8 minutes (cranberries will be very soft and some still whole). 

Remove from heat and fold in chopped apples.

Pour fruit filling over baked crust.  Using remainder of refrigerated dough, drop large crumbs over fruit layer so that the layer is covered with dough. 

Bake for 35 minutes, or until edges are very lightly golden brown and top feels firm.

Cool completely.  Holding edges of parchment paper, remove from pan and cut into bars before serving.

(Recipe adapted from Keep It Sweet Desserts).
Yes, I couldn't resist and had to sample before cutting into bars!

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