Friday, November 25, 2011

Cranberry Bars

Happy Thanksgiving to you! If you're still up at this ungodly hour (3:35 a.m. here) surfing the interwebz, you must be either still trying to digest some of that Thanksgiving feast you wolfed down earlier in the evening or browsing all the sweet Black Friday sales online that's just getting into full swing. It's ok. Thanksgiving is the day for indulgence, or rather, over indulgence. Just make sure you're giving thanks while you're indulging. That's the spirit!

In recent years, Thanksgiving day has toned down a great deal for me in terms of company and this is something I've really grown to cherish. Before that, Thanksgiving day used to involve trekking to someone's house and spending several hours being surrounded by lots of people, most of whom I don't know very well or who I see just once a year on ... you guessed it, November 24th. Sure, it's nice to have a boisterous gathering with lots of family and friends plus friends of friends but it doesn't quite compare to quality time spent with those closest to you and being really thankful for that precious time. This year, I got to do the latter once again and for that I'm very thankful.

I'm thankful to have spent this day with my children and with Mr. VG who, for the very first time in his life, made the Thanksgiving ham all by himself. I cooked up some simple sides of green bean casserole (my favorite), mashies, stuffing and garlic butter rolls and we had ourselves a marvelous Thanksgiving spread (sans the turkey because none of us like it) in the comfort of our own cozy home. After our over indulgence, we set up the living room to mimic a movie theater by moving the couches around and then watched Super 8 on pay-per-view while we nibbled on pumpkin pie. I couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving day.

The day before that, we had our usual Thanksgiving potluck at work. The only thing that even remotely hinted at Thanksgiving were the cranberry bars I brought. Everything else was exotic (much to my relief) and delicious! Check out pics of our potluck spread below:

Top: Stewed beef with daikon radish, steamed chicken feet and braised pork (Northern Chinese style)
Middle: Barbecued lamb skewers and hot dogs, Thai Massaman 
chicken and spaghetti carbonara

Bottom: Mala 麻辣 cabbage (made with Sichuan peppercorns that completely numbs your tongue), apple pastries, and Chinese snow fungus and longan soup dessert 

Makes about 24 bars. Adapted from Vegetarian Times.

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and rinsed if fresh or thawed if frozen
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 large egg yolks

Crust Ingredients:
4 graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. melted butter


1. To make the filling, place the berries into a saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring it to a simmer then reduce heat to low until the berries have softened and have burst. You may need to add a little more water during this process, especially if your heat is too high and is drying out the sauce too quickly.

2. Cool the berry mixture then blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve. You should have about 1 cup purée.

This the puree after it has been strained. It resembles ketchup.

3. Transfer the purée to a bowl, and whisk in the condensed milk and lemon juice followed by the egg yolks.

4. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper then coat with cooking spray.

5. Whisk together the flour, crushed graham crackers, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. 

6. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract. The crust mixture should resemble coarse meal and should hold its shape when you pinch it together. 

7. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. 

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F then pour the filling onto the hot crust. Tap the pan lightly to even out the surface. Bake for another 23 to 28 minutes, or until custard is set.

9. Cool, then chill until firm and cut into bars.

They're a little tart and smooth on top but sweet and crunchy on the bottom and are very good! I especially love their vibrant color.

1 comment:

Gingham Girl said...

Thanks for bringing these to the potluck. They were really delish!

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