Fall isn’t just about pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes. It’s time to celebrate the other holiday favorite, the cranberry! And if you’re looking for an easy Thanksgiving or holiday dessert, check out this delectable celebration of cranberry season: Cranberry Crumble Bars!
These delicious cranberry crumb bars feature a golden brown shortbread crust, custard cranberry filling, and buttery crumb topping. A splash of fresh orange juice and zest add nice citrus flavor to the cranberry layer, then top with a homemade orange glaze.
This dessert has the right amount of sweet along with a bit of zing. You can use fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries. Plus, it’s easy to make, serve and freeze. They’re amazing warmed up and topped with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream [hey, it’s the holidays! Treat yourself.]
Why we love these ingredients
Cranberries contain ‘good’ carbs and a nice amount of gut-friendly fiber. They’re also a treasure trove of health-enhancing antioxidants and polyphenols. Many of these plant compounds are concentrated in the skin and deliver some powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits.
You’ve also probably heard that cranberries are a standby remedy for Urinary Tract Infections. UTI’s are usually caused by the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which attaches itself to the inner surface of your bladder and urinary tract.
The special proanthocyanidians in cranberries prevent E. coli from attaching to the lining of your bladder and urinary tract. Several studies show that cranberries can indeed reduce the risk of UTIs. What’s more, cranberries also protect your heart, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
And if you want to fuel your gut microbiome, eat some walnuts! Research shows that walnuts act as a prebiotic that enhances the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and supports digestive health.
In addition, walnuts are a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which support your heart and brain. They lower harmful LDL cholesterol and boost protective HDL. They also help keep blood sugar in check by improving the body's sensitivity to insulin.
Pro Tips To Get You Started
Bring the butter and eggs to room temperature before using. It will make your life much easier when mixing and preparing the batter.
As we mentioned, you can use either fresh or frozen whole cranberries [not cranberry sauce or dried cranberries]. If you choose to use frozen, do NOT thaw them first.
Cranberry Crumble Bars
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 75 minutes
SERVINGS: 15 bars
For the Crust/Crumb Topping:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups butter, room temperature [unsalted preferred]
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the Cranberry Filling:
- 1 and 1/4 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 -1/2 TBSP orange zest
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts [more or less according to taste]
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 4 and 1/2 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
For the Orange Glaze:
- ½ cup confectioners/powdered sugar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 TBSP orange zest
Make the Crust and Crumb Topping:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to overhang on two of the ends. Spray with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed in a stand mixer or electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- On low speed, add flour, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until combined. The dough will be crumbly. Remove 2 cups of the dough and set aside.
- Press the remaining crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool as you prepare the filling. Keep oven temperature at 350.
Make the cranberry filling:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, both sugars, orange juice, eggs, flour, cornstarch, vanilla, 2 teaspoons of orange zest [save the rest for the glaze], cinnamon, and almond extract. Keep mixing until smooth and well combined, about 2 minutes.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in 2 and ½ cups of the cranberries. The filling will be on the thinner side, this is normal!
- Pour the filling mixture over the crust, shaking the pan gently, then evenly sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of cranberries on top.
- Take the reserved crust and scatter it over the top of the berries, squeezing the mixture in your hands to encourage large lumps.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden brown, remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire cooling rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Remove bars from the pan, drizzle with glaze and slice into squares.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Drizzle on top of bars and let set before slicing, about 5 minutes.