As far as Christmas dessert recipes go, these cranberry bars are actually fairly healthy, and they make a nice change of pace from rich, heavy — but delicious — desserts.
My mom has been making these for 16 years now. She got the recipe from a newspaper article… in fact, she still has it carefully stowed away and brings it out every year for Christmas.
These cranberry bars are my dad’s favorite Christmas dessert. They’re not too sweet, but the cranberry-orange filling is super delicious and festive — they taste like Christmas!
So if you want a healthier option among all the rich Christmas desserts, try out this recipe. Here it is!
Preparation Time: 20m Cooking Time: 50m Total Time: 1h10m
Yields 24 bars.
12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cranberries, water, white sugar, grated ginger and orange zest until the mixture is boiling. Cook the mixture over medium heat until all the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
- Pour the filling into a bowl. Place it into the refrigerator and let it cool and thicken.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, ginger, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one.
- Add the flour mixture and the rolled oats to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until the dough is well blended.
- Spread all but 1 1/2 cups of the dough into a greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Spoon the cranberry filling evenly on top of the dough. Spread the remaining dough over the filling.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the topping is a nice, golden brown.
- Let it cool completely before cutting into little bars.
- When cooking the cranberries, you should be sure to use a saucepan made from a non-reactive material like stainless steel. Otherwise, the acid in the cranberries could cause your pot to discolor, or even change the taste of the filling. For example, you should never cook cranberries in an aluminum saucepan.
- If you don’t have time to make the whole thing at once, don’t worry. The cranberry filling will keep in the fridge for a few days, and you can make the crust later.
- Don’t worry about spreading the topping perfectly evenly oven the soft cranberry filling. You can just drop the dough in little clumps and try to cover as much of the surface as possible. Keeping your hands wet or floured will help you spread the dough.
- These cranberry bars are perfect for freezing. After cutting them into bars, just place them in an airtight container. If you need to stack the bars, separate them with a layer of wax paper. When you’re ready for them, just take them out of the freezer and let them defrost at room temperature for about an hour.
Unlike most of the recipes I like to use, this lemon bar recipe isn’t completely homemade. It uses a packaged lemon pie filling mix, but it’s really yummy, and it makes super easy lemon bars.
I love this Christmas dessert recipe because it’s sweet but tangy, and it’s not really as rich as some of the other desserts. And the chopped pecans give it a really nice touch.
It’s really a very pretty dessert and looks great on a plate with a bunch of other bars, cookies, and candies.
Here it is!
Easy Lemon Bars
Preparation Time: 10m Cooking Time: 25m Total Time: 35m
Yields 1 9″x13″ dish of lemon bars.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 (7.5oz or 212g) package Shirriff lemon pie filling mix
2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
- Add the flour to the butter mixture and mix it until smooth. Incorporate 1/3 of a cup of the pecans.
- Press the dough into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until it’s golden.
- Meanwhile, add the pie filling mix to the eggs and whisk until the pie filling is dissolved. Spread the lemon mixture evenly over the baked crust, and sprinkle with the rest of the pecans.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the lemon filling sets.
- Let it cool, and then cut it into bars.
- Toasting the pecans isn’t hard. Just chop them, spread them onto a baking sheet, and pop them in the oven at 350F until they start to smell, well, toasty.
- It takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but you have to keep an eye on them because they can burn quickly once they’re done.
- You can toss the pecans in some melted butter before toasting them. It’ll add a bit of flavor and help them toast more evenly.
- We always used the Shirriff brand for this lemon bar recipe, but I’m sure another brand would work just fine. You’re basically making a lemon pie on a cookie crust, so just get a pie filling mix for one pie, and follow the instructions — for example, you may not need 2 eggs.
- I’d recommend cutting the bars in smaller squares rather than bigger ones. If you have smaller bars, you can sample lots of desserts instead of filling up on just a few — and you can always eat more if that’s what you like!
- These bars freeze really well. Once they’ve cooled down and they’re all cut up, you can place them in an airtight container in the freezer. If you need to layer the squares, separate each layer with wax paper.
Out of all my family’s Christmas dessert recipes, these pecan pie bars are probably the most popular. Whenever we bring a plate of desserts over to a friend’s place over the holidays, someone raves about them… and the people who’ve had them before always make sure to save a little room for some pecan bars.
This is a completely decadent dessert — a delicious cookie crust, topped with homemade caramel and crunchy pecans. Trust me, you’ll just have to try it out to see how good it is!
These pecan pie bars are especially good to make for Christmas because they freeze so well. You can make them weeks ahead of time, and then just take out what you need for each holiday meal. So not only are they outstanding, but they help relieve some of that holiday stress!
Here it is!
Preparation Time: 30m Cooking Time: 30m Total Time: 1h00m
Yields 50 bars.
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups pecan halves
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup liquid honey
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a medium bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 1/2 a cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Incorporate the egg. Add the flour one cup at a time, stirring each time until it’s just blended. Be careful not to overmix.
- Press the crust mixture into a 15″x10″x3/4″ jelly roll pan. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Spread the pecans evenly over the crust. My mom likes to place the pecans right side up, evenly spaced — about half an inch to an inch apart.
- In a large heavy saucepan, melt the remaining butter and honey. Add the brown sugar, and boil for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until you get a rich caramel color. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the cream, mixing until it’s smooth and well-blended.
- Pour the caramel over the crust and pecans, and bake for 15 more minutes.
- Let cool, and cut into bars.
- You can also make the cookie crust by combining all the ingredients in a food processor until they’re all blended. I prefer to mix by hand because I find the food processor makes too dense a crust, and it’s a bit messy to clean up… but the food processor is definitely easier and faster!
- When you’re measuring out the flour, don’t dip your measuring cup into the bag of flour — that can make the flour become more compact, and you’ll end up adding way more than you need to. Instead, spoon the flour into your measuring cup, and level it off with a knife.
- A pretty way to cut these pecan bars is to cut them so that each bar has one or two pecans on it. They don’t need to be much bigger, because this is a very rich dessert!
- To store these pecan pie bars, cut them into squares, then place them in an airtight container in the freezer. If you need to stack the bars, separate each layer by a sheet of wax paper. When you want some bars, just take out what you need and let them defrost for about an hour.