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Cranberry-Apple-Walnut Crumb Bars

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Yields 24 bars

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 113

One buttery mixture is used for both the crust and the streusel topping, making these bars extra easy to assemble. Dried apples, rather than fresh, lend their concentrated flavor to the filling.
 

For the crust and topping
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
  • 12 oz. (3 cups) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup chopped dried apples
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. apple brandy, such as Calvados or applejack
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the ends. Spray the foil with cooking spray.

Make the crust and topping

In a food processor, finely grind 1/2 cup of the walnuts with the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas, 5 or 6 one-second pulses. Transfer 1 generous cup of the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.

Add the egg to the mixture remaining in the food processor and pulse just until the dough begins to gather into large clumps. With your fingertips, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Using the tines of a fork, dock the crust all over.

Bake until the edges are light goldenbrown and the center looks dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the crust on a rack.

Meanwhile, knead the reserved mixture with your fingertips until it becomes clumpy. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/2-cup walnuts and toss them into the mixture; set aside for the topping.

Make the filling

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the cranberries with the apples, sugar, maple syrup, apple brandy, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, the cranberries have popped open, and the mixture is thick and syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup cranberries.

With a rubber spatula, scrape the cranberry mixture onto the crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the cranberry layer, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle.

Bake until the topping is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack until just warm, about 1 hour. Carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the foil overhang, peel back the edges of the foil, and cool completely on the rack. Cut into 24 pieces.

Make Ahead Tips

The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 210; Fat (g): fat g 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 5; Protein (g): protein g 2; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 28; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 95; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 30; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Easy and delicious. Served at a pot luck and everyone loved them.

Really good & crumbly! A bit messy to eat as a bar/cookie - perhaps best served warmed in a bowl with ice cream (like a cobbler). Easy to make, the crust took a bit longer in my oven to bake. I used cognac instead of apple brandy, still tasty. Next time I may add a touch of brown sugar to the topping. A winner at my house, will make again!

These are excellent and easy to make. The dried apples gave a nice apple flavor and the crust is buttery and melt in your mouth good. These bars are not too sweet and look beautiful on the plate. Will definitely make again.

Really enjoyed these bars. I had frozen cranberries & walnuts to use up and wanted something to enjoy with my coffee in the morning. They are tart in a good way, the only thing is they took a lot longer to make than I thought - husband reading the paper out loud could have contributed to that! A few shortcuts for next time. Before spraying the foil lined pan you can use it to toast the walnuts. Divide the toasted nuts and then chop half in processor and set aside for topping, chop apples in processor and reserve, and then proceed with the regular make the crust and topping instructions. These are really pretty when cut in squares like the picture and would be perfect in a glass cookie jar for house guest and family during the holidays. Husband said I really like these and I don't like this kind of thing!

Took a batch of these cookies to a potluck meeting yesterday. Everyone raved about them. I had made a couple of changes: apple juice instead of apple brandy and had reduced the sugar in the filling to ½ cup. Am thinking of ordering boiled cider ftom KAF and making them with that next time.

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