Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

In my quest to find nut-free desserts, I saw this recipe in the most recent Cooking Light and had to make it! It looked so yummy. So I whipped it up pretty quickly this afternoon. It is very simple and doesn't take much time to prepare. The crust isn't pre-baked so that cuts down on the time. We used fat-free sour cream and Trader Joe's unsweetened dried cranberries. These were absolutely delicious!!! One of our favorite bar cookies we've made. This is yet another Thanksgiving contender because it has complex flavors but the cinnamon and orange make it very comforting. This is a definite make-again.

bars

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars
CL, November 2008

These bar cookies strike a nice flavor balance: not too sweet and not too tart. Be sure to zest the orange before you squeeze the juice.

Crust:
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Cooking spray

Filling:
1 1/3 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Yield: 24 servings

VARIATIONS
Cherry-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries and lemon rind for the orange rind in filling.

Maple-Date-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute chopped pitted dates for the dried cranberries. Omit granulated sugar from filling, and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

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