An easy last minute dessert recipe for Thanksgiving. These cranberry apple shortbread bars are a delicious holiday treat.
I love any excuse to use this shortbread recipe. It’s seriously buttery, slightly chewy and lightly crispy on the outside. Plus, the basic flavor lends itself to almost any type of filling. I’ve done Meyer Lemon Shorbread Bars, Blueberry Rhubarb Shortbread Bars and even adapted it into an Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookie. I kind of wish I didn’t love it so much because… well, so.much.butter., but I just can’t help myself.
For the holidays I thought it was time to break out the shortbread recipe and layer it with a seasonal fruit filling. I’ve always loved apples and cranberries together and they work really well here. Both fruits are on the tart side so it isn’t a super sweet filling, but sometimes you actually want a dessert that doesn’t kill you with an overwhelming sensation of “hello, sugar.”
These bars were one of the last desserts I made pre-baby. After eating an entire row of them (whoops, that’s what 39 weeks plus will do to you), I froze the rest to save for the bris or baby visitors. They defrosted wonderfully and now I wish I had more!
Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away but this recipe is easy enough to add in as a last minute treat. Make them tomorrow or Wednesday and they will be perfect for serving on Thursday. Just make sure they are stored in the pan and tightly wrapped with foil or removed and tightly wrapped that way.
- 530g (~4 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 454g (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 240g (1 ½ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
- 200g (~1 cup) granulated sugar, separated
- 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract
- 360g (4 cups) fresh cranberries (frozen will likely work, filling cooking time may differ)
- 100g (~½ cup) granulated sugar
- 59 milliliters (2 fluid ounces) water
- 8g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch
- 5g (1 teaspoon) minced ginger
- 2g (1 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 340g (~3 cups / 2 medium) chopped apples (I prefer to use a crisp apple like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper so that some parchment paper hangs over sides and set aside
- Beat butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy; mix in vanilla until well-combined
- Stir in flour just until combined
- Press half of the dough into prepared baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown; shape remaining dough into a disk and wrap tightly with seran wrap; chill in refrigerator
- While bottom layer is cooking, prepare filling
- Combine cranberries, granulated sugar, water, cornstarch, ginger and nutmeg in a heavy duty saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally and let mixture cook until fruit has formed a thick jam-like consistency (cranberries will be very soft but some still whole), about 8 minutes
- Remove from heat and fold in chopped apples
- Pour fruit filling over crust; remove remainder of dough from refrigerator and use all of it by dropping large crumbs over fruit layer so that the layer is completely covered
- Place back into oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until edges are very lightly golden brown and top feels set / firm
- Set aside to cool before cutting into bars and serving
Filling adapted from Blueberry Rhubarb Shortbread Bars
These bars are not overly sweet at all, the sweetness is mostly in the shortbread and the fruit filling adds a tart balance
Store tightly wrapped at room temperature up to two days or freeze for up to one month
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