Cranberry Blondes

My mom made these delectable Cranberry Blondes for me over the weekend.  I know I say this every time I post something on my blog, but these are amazing!  (Of course, if the recipe wasn’t amazing, why would I post it?  I’d put it under the “Oopes and Mistakes” section of Dallas Duo).

These bars remind me of a cross between a buttery shortbread and a bar cookie or blondie.  My mom said the batter is extremely sticky, much like shortbread, and that she had to use all her arm power to fold in the dried cranberries!

Unlike costly dried cherries, dried cranberries are inexpensive and easy to find.  Right now if you shop at  Central Market, you can buy their dried cranberries in bulk.  Since they are in season, the dried cranberries are in chopped whole, rather than in small pieces like you would get with Ocean Spray Craisins. The whole pieces make these cranberries so juicy, plump, and delicious.  They also add a pleasingly tart and zingy flavor to baked goods, especially paired with orange zest, as they are in these bars.

Make these soon…enjoy!

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Fat Witch Brownies” by Patricia Helding, owner of New York’s legendary Fat Witch Bakery.

Cranberry Blondes 
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with butter.  Dust with flour and shake out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the egg yolks and mix until well combined.
3.  Measure the flour and salt and then sift directly into the batter.  Mix gently until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
4.  In a small bowl, stir together the cranberries, granulated sugar, and orange zest with a fork.  Add to the batter and mix in by hand with a wooden spoon.
5.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan, using your hands to press down lightly and evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter on it.
6.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Cut just before serving.

Yield:  12 to 16 bars
“Fat Witch Brownies:  Brownies, Blondies, and Bars From New York’s Legendary Fat Witch Bakery” by Patricia Helding

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