Monday, December 17, 2012

Cranberry Turtle Bars

12 Days of Christmas Cookies Day 9! Cranberry and caramel and nuts? When I came across this recipe, I have to say that I was intrigued. Cranberries are so seasonal, but this recipe mixes them in with a turtle bar cookie. I was deciding between a recipe that was basically like a lemon bar with cranberries and this one. Maybe for the sheer novelty of it, I decided to give this one a try. It ended turning up really well!

These bars have a shortbread crust, then you make caramel and add cranberries. Finally you stir in the pecans and bake them up. I’ve made several different types of caramel, but I think this was yet another caramel variation. The caramel got to 245 degrees quite quickly; in fact I was worried that it had gotten too hot. I added the cranberries and I really did think I had ruined it. I know the recipe said it would clump up, but this turned into a solid mass and after many minutes of stirring I still didn’t think there was any hope. But I kept stirring and it eventually became caramel again. Then it took quite a while to get back to 245 degrees.

These baked up just fine. The beautiful red of the cranberries just about sparkle! I let mine cool overnight before attempting to cut them in to bars. I’m glad I did; while these bars aren’t super fragile, the topping is on the softer side and it would have been even softer had it been warm at all. These are fairly tart, but the chocolate drizzle offsets that so that these are a nice little festive cookie.

Cranberry Turtle Bars
 2 cups flour
1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups frozen cranberries (not thawed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with sheets of foil, leaving a two-inch overhang on all sides. Spray the sides of the foil with cooking spray.

Make the base: in a food processor combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until mixture forms pea-sized lumps. Pour into prepared pan and press down firmly all over to make an even layer.

Bake 15-17 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
Make the topping: while the base is cooling, melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the cranberries. The caramel and cranberries will clump up, but it will work its way out. Allow the caramel to melt back down, stirring, as necessary, to prevent burning. Boil until caramel returns to 245 degrees.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the pecans, stirring until pecans are well coated. Immediately spread over the base, distributing the cranberries and pecans evenly. Cool completely.
Lift the foil from pan and transfer the bars to a cutting board. Cut into strips, and then cut the strips into bars.

Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler or in a microwave. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the bars. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.

Recipe from Pixelated Crumb

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