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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars

Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars
I don't know about you, but I cook extra of everything at Thanksgiving for the sole purpose of having leftovers.  I consider leftovers as essential as the meal itself.

It's funny how Thanksgiving is a process.  A month to two months in advance I start snatching up food magazines featuring beautifully burnished turkeys, jewel-toned cranberry sauce,  fluffy dinner rolls, and plethora of winter squash in its many shapes and colors of Autumn from the shelves.  Then I pull out my "Thanksgiving box".  Yes, I have a box.  Within that box lies years of October/November back issues of magazines.  It also contains books centered around Thanksgiving.  And a binder packed full of both tried-and-true recipes and stray clippings of ones that may one day make it to the table.  There are even some old school art projects and crafts like hand-turkeys, toilet-paper-roll pilgrims, and construction paper headdresses.  I love that box.

So I comb through the recipes and form a haphazard stack of what I might want to see on my table that particular year.  Next comes a sheet of notebook paper.  It gets labels: Turkey and Gravy, Sides (which include potatoes, sweet potatoes, other veggie, applesauce, cranberry sauce, and stuffing...oh, and salad which I always forget and add on at the last minute, but more about that tomorrow), Breads, Desserts, Drinks, and Leftovers.  Then that haphazard pile I mentioned?  It gets combed through and matched up.  Sometimes a few lines on the paper are left I can fill them in later with something I've seen on a blog or pinterest or a website or get get my drift.  But the recipes that did make that years list?  They get paper-clipped to the sheet of notebook paper (or stacked under it if they're in a magazine or book).
Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars
Next comes the timeline.  I won't go into changes with the menu.  But yes, I write it all out on another sheet of paper.  The week is a madhouse.  A flurry of knives and baggies and brines and stove-time.  A week of telling the family to fend for themselves...I mean, come on, I'm preparing for a feast people!

And then the day comes.  Husband carrying in long table from garage.  Kids playing board games and begging for "just a little bowl" of applesauce.  The master of timing working her magic in the kitchen {ahem}.  Football on the tube.  And finally - enjoying the meal with my loved ones.  Thanksgiving IS my favorite holiday.

But after all that work, there's no way in holy heck that it should all end with that one meal.  Oh no.  Leftovers better follow or this girl gets grouchy.  I want a cold turkey sandwich scattered with salt as a midnight snack that night.  I want a Turkey Manhattan for lunch the next day.  I want a turkey pot pie.  I want a colorful, towering leftover sandwich for dinner the next night.  I want sweet potato burritos for breakfast the day after.  And I definitely want to pry the bowl of cold cranberry sauce from my cranberry sauce-obsessed daughter's hands turn the leftover cranberry sauce into these amazing, jammy bars that double as dessert and breakfast.

Don't you?

Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars
Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes (divided)
Keywords: bake dessert vegetarian soy-free cranberries Thanksgiving bars American fall winter

Ingredients (2 dozen)
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 13 tablespoons  cold, unsalted butter, cut into smallish cubes (+ some soft butter for pan)
  • 1 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place rack in center. Line a 13x9 baking pan with foil, letting it hang over both edges, and butter the foil and pan.

Stir together the oats, both flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Work in the butter with your fingertips until well combined and crumbly. You could also do this in a mixer, using the paddle attachment. Toss in the pecans. Press half of the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the mixture starts turning golden. Remove from oven and spread the cranberry sauce over the bottom layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, pressing gently, just to help it adhere to the cranberry sauce.

Slide back into the oven and bake until the edges turn golden and feeling is set, ~45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the edges and then lift the whole thing out using the extra foil as handles. Cut into 24 bars.

This works with any sweet or sweet/tart cranberry sauce...I'd stay away from those made with savory ingredients like garlic and onions. It would be great with this one or this one or even this one.

slightly adapted from Baking For Friends
Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars