cranberry-pecan crumb bars

December 19, 2011

in Bars & Bites

I have a habit of taking an ordinary fruit bar and upping the ante by transforming a shortbread crust into dessert nirvana with one extra step – browning the butter first (apple pie bars, anyone?!). This simple technique adds a rich depth of flavor that stands up to the traditional tartness of cranberries in these cranberry-pecan crumb bars. Briefly cooking fresh cranberries along with maple syrup and brandy makes a complex filling, and buttery crumbs tossed with toasted pecans add a scrumptious golden topping.

Cranberry-Pecan Crumb Bars
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Crust & Crumbs
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pecans, lightly toasted
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Filling
12 ounces (3 cups) fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp brandy
1/8 tsp salt

Cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Pour browned butter into a glass measuring cup and chill in the freezer until solid, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with foil; spray with nonstick spray. Grind 1/2 cup pecans and sugar in a food processor. Combine pecan-sugar with flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk together. Cut in solidified brown butter with a pastry cutter until dough is crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of mixture and set aside. Cut in egg to remaining mixture just until dough begins to come together. Press evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake until crust edges are golden brown and the center is set, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

To prepare filling, combine 2 cups cranberries, apples, sugar, maple syrup, brandy, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved, the cranberries have split open, and the mixture is syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 cup cranberries; spread cranberry mixture in an even layer over crust.

Coarsely chop remaining 1/2 cup pecans and toss with reserved dough mixture. Sprinkle evenly over cranberry layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until topping is golden. Cool bars in pan on a wire rack until warm, about 1 hour, then carefully lift bars out of pan and cool completely on wire rack. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Yield – 24 bars (serving size: 1 bar)
Calories – 185
Carbs – 26

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2 Comments

1 Melissa December 19, 2011

This looks like the perfect sweet treat to enjoy with coffee on Christmas morning! Thanks for the inspiration :)

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2 Laura Kasavan December 19, 2011

Oh yes, I think one of these bars would definitely qualify as a breakfast item!

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