Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Every year around this time I bake something festive for a potluck-type thing at work. Two years ago, it was these:
Melted snowman cookies
If you want to make your own, Google it, and you’ll find all sorts of blog posts about them.
Last year, it was these:
Marbled Christmas cookies, which I blogged about here.
I had plans to make cookies again this year, but then I thought about it. They look nice, but (to me, anyway) they never taste that good, and they are A LOT of work. So after a lot of searching, I came up with an easier, still brightly festive (but naturally-coloured), delicious idea– cranberry curd shortbread bars. (Easier is relatively speaking. This is nothing like cutting and baking and icing a ton of cookies, but it still is a multi-step recipe.)
The original cranberry curd bars idea comes from theKitchn. I didn’t like how that curd recipe contained so many eggs, so I slightly modified Cooking Melangery’s curd recipe, using less sugar. The original’s shortbread crust had ground nuts in it, but being thrifty I just went with the crust from my Lemon Bars. I also added some shortbread stars to fancy them up.
Cranberry Curd Shortbread Bars
(makes one 9 x 13″ pan)
For the cranberry curd:
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
57 grams (4 tbsp) butter
For the shortbread crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
200 grams (1 cup minus 2 tbsp) butter, softened
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the cranberries pop. Pass through a food mill or sieve to remove the skins, and let cranberry puree cool. Clean saucepan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13″ pan with foil, then grease the foil. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and icing sugar. Add the butter and mix until the dough comes together. (I find it easiest to use my hands!) If desired, roll out a small amount of dough and cut star shapes using a mini cutter and place in a pie plate or other small pan. Press remaining dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges start to lightly brown. The stars will only need to be baked for about 5 minutes; watch them carefully.
Whisk together the egg yolks and egg, then whisk in sugar. Place cranberry puree back in the saucepan, then stir in the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in butter.
Spread warm curd over crust. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are set but middle is still slightly jiggly.
Let cool, then refrigerate before cutting. Garnish with shortbread stars and dust with icing sugar if desired, preferably just before serving (icing sugar will melt into the bars after a little while.) Store covered in the refrigerator.
The curd is delicious just on its own. You could make it and cook it slightly longer, then keep it in the fridge for about a week, serving it on ice cream, yoghurt, waffles, pancakes… or just eating it straight. :)
What to do with those leftover egg whites? I’ll have a suggestion (hopefully!) tomorrow.
After I sprinkled on the icing sugar and took photos, I looked out the window to see snowflakes falling just like powdered sugar. Actually, not quite– it was huge clumps of snow falling. It was our first snow of the season, so I took Chai out to see it, interrupting him from eating his dinner. He is on a diet so that is a big deal to him! But apparently freedom matters more than food, because he ran off in the snow. Thankfully I got him back from under a parked truck by shaking his food container. The snow remains– but rain is in the forecast, so it’s not clear if I’ll be having a white Christmas or not.
Have you done any Christmas baking this year?