Streusel topping, buttery shortbread, sweet/tart cranberry filling – what’s not to like about these bar cookies?! These were a few steps, but don’t let that deter you because they are easy to make. If there is a time to use a quality, European style butter, this is it. The rich flavor will really shine through. I made these bars as a Thanksgiving dessert, but they’re festive color would make them an excellent candidate for a Christmas cookies. Plus, they keep for a good week at room temperature, so you can make them ahead of time too!
I really enjoyed these bars, so much so I think I’ll add them to my December cookie list. Hope you enjoy too! And don’t forget to check out and link up to our CRANBERRY link page!
Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars, adapted from Fine Cooking
For the crust and streusel:
- 10-1/2 oz. (1 cup plus 5 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. table salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 14-1/4 oz. (3 cups plus 3 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour
For the cranberry topping:
- 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 Tbs Grand Marnier (or orange juice)
Make the crust:
Line a straight-sided 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Transfer about 2 cups of the dough to the prepared pan, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.
Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and another near the top. Heat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the dough until the crust begins to set but does not brown at all on the edges (the center will not be firm yet), about 20 minutes. While the crust bakes, prepare the streusel and the topping.
Make the streusel:
With your fingers, combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the reserved dough until crumbly. The mixture should hold together when pressed, but readily break into smaller pieces.
Make the cranberry topping:
In a medium saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool 5 to 10 minutes—the syrup will continue to thicken as the mixture cools.
Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the hot crust. Scatter the streusel over the cranberries (don’t crumble the streusel too much or the texture will be sandy). Increase the oven temperature to 350°F and bake the bars near the top of the oven until the streusel is golden and set, about 25 minutes. (Baking these bars at the top of the oven helps the streusel brown faster without overbrowning the crust.)
Place the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour. (For faster cooling, put the bars in the fridge once the pan is no longer piping hot, or even outside in winter.)
When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1-3/4-inch squares.
The bars will keep at room temperature for one week.