Dec 24 2012

Lemon Cranberry Bars

Published by at 10:05 am under Food,Recipes

Fresh cranberries are not locally available in Maryland yet they are always so enticing to me when I see them in the grocery store.  They are so invitingly seasonal, they have the same allure that truly local produce does: they have a uniquely fresh taste and need to be used while in season because they won’t be around long after New Year’s.

The problem is, very few recipes call for fresh cranberries.  I have scanned plenty of cranberry this and cranberry that recipes that feature dried cranberries or cranberry sauce but fresh cranberries seem relegated to feature roles in compotes and supporting roles in more off-beat versions of apple pie and orange quickbreads.

These bar cookies, however, give cranberries the center stage.  At first I was dubious, thinking tart lemon and tart cranberries was just asking for a super astringent-tasting dessert that would make my mouth pucker.  The reality is, the lemon part is so buttery and the cranberry part is tempered with sugar so the final result is a pretty balanced dessert.  I actually find it really pleasing as a holiday dessert since the flavors and colors are so festive and the tartness cuts through the richness and heaviness of the chocolates, cheesecakes and sugary pies so common this time of year.  These are wintery yet still bright and fresh-tasting.  So skip the tired compotes and pick up a bag of cranberries with this recipe in mind.

Lemon Cranberry Bars

Yield: Makes about 20 bars

Lemon Cranberry Bars

Originally from Kitchen Culinare, as seen on Southern Pink Lemonade

Ingredients

    For the Dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup cold water
  • For the Filling:
  • 1- 12 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Juice of one lemon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.

For the Dough:

In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until dough is crumbled into small pieces.

Move the crumbles to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. The dough should still be slightly dry.

Press slightly more than half of the dough in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Set the remaining dough aside for the topping.

For the Filling:

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add cranberries and lemon juice. Stir to completely coat cranberries. Pour filling ingredients over the dough in the baking dish. Spread cranberries so that they are in a single layer.

Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the cranberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top and the sides are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, lift squares out of the baking dish using the parchment paper. Cut into squares.

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