Cranberry Orange Shortbread Bars

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You guys.

You guys!  It is the week of Christmas and I think.  I think I have my Christmas shopping complete.  I think.  There is bound to be someone or something that pops up between now and Thursday.  It happens each and every year and whatever…instead of trying to think of who/what I have forgotten or wrap the presents now and realize that one nephew has way more than one niece…I am gonna continue snuggling up on my couch with fluffy socks, sweat pants, warm scarf, hot coffee, peppermint Joe-Joes, and crappy great TV.  I mean, why break tradition?

If you are finding yourself with a bit of extra time, energy, motivation, and some butter…can I persuade you to make these shortbread bars?  I am sure you will need far more butter than energy.  As I made these in the early morning still bleary eyed from too little sleep and before the first cup of coffee had taken hold.  Let’s not talk about the smudged eyeliner and mascara from the day before.  That shall stay between me and the cranberries.

So, if I can do this on mere fumes with a  good dose of hope – I have no doubt about you.  Zero actually.

Walnut brown sugar shortbread crust.

We aren’t joking in these parts.

Not even with day old makeup on.

Priorities.

Cranberries need a bit of help.

I have made these bars without the orange zest and juice and they were mistaken for every other type of red jam bars out there.  Which is cool and they were good and people ate them and were all happy and cheery.

So, no orange in stock…it’s cool.  Omit the zest and use water instead of orange juice.  Just tell people they are cranberries when they mistake them for raspberry jam bars.  Or just nod, smile, and say thanks.

OK…I am off to find some non-sweat pant pants to wear and maybe run a brush through my hair and get my self all merry and bright.

I wish you guys the best darn Christmas.  Really, just the best!

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 8 ounces fresh cranberries (about 2+1/4 to 2+1/2 cups)
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoon orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Place walnuts on baking sheet and roast for about 7 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool. Roughly chop walnuts - you will not want them to be fine or powder like but the size of small pebbles. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and chopped walnuts and mix until well incorporated. It will be crumbly at first but will eventually come together.
  4. Press ⅔ of dough into bottom of prepared pan. Prick dough all over with the tines of a fork about 10 to 15 times. Place in oven for about 15 minutes until slightly puffed and just lightly golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Combine remaining dough with oats and cinnamon and mix with a fork or fingertips until well combined - it will be much more crumbly. Set aside and prepare filling.
  6. In a medium sauce pan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil and let cook, stirring occasionally, until filling becomes syrupy and thick - about 5 minutes. The cranberries will pop and begin to break down. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Spread cranberry filling evenly over crust leaving about a ¼ to ½ inch border around the edges. Sprinkle remaining dough over the top of cranberry filling. Place in oven and let bake for an additional 18-24 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving. These are best stored at room temperature tightly covered. They also can be stored in the freezer - cool completely and then wrap well with plastic wrap followed by tinfoil before placing in freezer. I would imagine they would be good for 3-6 months but mine only lasted about 2 weeks before I ate them.

 

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