Cranberry Crumb Bars

Do you want to know just how good these Cranberry Crumb Bars are? As Mary Poppins would say, they’re practically perfect in every way. I have made 3 pans of them just this week. Practically perfect, see? So practically perfect that they’re verging on actual perfection minus the part about how they aren’t exactly health food. Okay, before you go all oh-my-gosh-are-you-crazy? and that’s-so-bad-for-you on me let me justify those three pans first. Okay?

Pan #1: made them for us. We devoured them. I had the last one for breakfast yesterday because it was calling my name in the fridge. I mean, it was the last one in the pan and the pan was just taking up way too much space since it wasn’t really serving any purpose by housing only one bar. I took the bar out. I put the pan in the dishwasher. And then I ate the bar. The end. Oh except for the part where Logan tells me that he “only [likes] the chocolate brownies.” Oh well. More for me. (Sometimes there are advantages to having a picky child. The picky child just doesn’t need to find that out)

Pan #2 and #3: Made both today. Logan and Madeline had a grand time helping me press the crust in and then proceeded to litter the kitchen with flour, sugar, and baking powder. I was also trying to make Beef with Broccoli for dinner at the same time. Am I crazy or what? Please don’t answer that.

Pan #2 is for MOMS Club Garage Sale/Bake Sale tomorrow morning. Pan #3 part 1 is for a friend’s family. Pan #3 part two is for us. Again. I could hardly wait for them to chill before a.) delivering them and b.) eating them myself. So I ate some unchilled and they were a mess to cut into, but still really good. Though I do like them better chilled. I also think they’re the perfect treat for the upcoming holidays, or any time you want your kitchen to smell awesome.

P.S. Cranberries are good for you. Right? Right.
P.P.S. Go check out the new Food Section on the Paula Deen website and all the super cool contributing writers.

Cranberry Crumb Bars
adapted from SGCC and Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal*
  • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of 1/2 of an orange
  • zest of one orange
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries**
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, almond flour, salt and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly. Alternatively, you can pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter until pebbly, and then mix in the egg until it all comes together. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Mix in the cranberries. Sprinkle the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon to the remaining dough, then crumble dough over the berries. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

* I used these almonds. Just toss them in a food processor until finely ground to make almond meal.

**stock up while cranberries are abundant in stores. Just toss them in the freezer and use as you need. They’ll be good for about a year. If you’re using frozen fresh cranberries for this recipe there is no need to thaw them first.

Update 10/26/09: Regarding the possibility of freezing these bars, please see here.