Once upon a time when I worked in an office, I had down time. In between assignments I would check my email, IM with friends, and, as it was the mid-aughts, read blogs.
I quickly became obsessed with food blogs. As a person who loves to cook and bake, it was a great way to access home cook-approved recipes.
But I liked the blogs for more than just the recipes. I liked the writing. I liked the personalities behind the writing. Even though I never commented or reached out to any of these bloggers, I felt camaraderie with them.
So I've been reading Deb, Luisa, Heidi, and Molly (yes, we are on a first-name basis) for years. While I got a lot of good recipes from them, they all got book deals.
Petty moment passes.
Fortunately for me, I
received The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for my birthday. After marking almost
every page with these adorable vintage pattern page flags I also received for
my birthday, I started baking.
These Cranberry Crumb Bars were up to usual Smitten Kitchen snuff. Easy, delicious, and beautiful to boot, they are a fantastic and unexpected addition to any cookie swap, holiday table, or teacher gift.
I may not have a book deal, but I do have one kid who was willing to try the bars. And liked them. In some ways, it is just as satisfying. Or so I tell myself.
Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp table salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
1 large egg
½ tsp freshly grated orange zest
1 ½ Tbsp orange juice
3 cups (12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries
¼ to ½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and butter the sides and the parchment. In a large, widish bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. With a pastry blender or fork, work the chilled butter and egg into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pat half the crumb base into the bottom of your prepared pan; it will be thin.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, briefly pulse the filling ingredients until the cranberries are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Spread the filling over the crumb base. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the cranberry mixture.
Bake cookies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
While the recipe calls for ½ cup of sugar in the filling, I inadvertently only used ¼ cup and I think they are fine. If you prefer your cranberries on the sweeter side, use Deb's measurement.