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!
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.