Friday, November 22, 2013

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Well, Thanksgiving for us is a thing of the past.  And yes, I know that even though we are ahead of the rest of the US as far as times zones go we are not so far ahead as to actually BE after Thanksgiving which is still a week away.  I may have been in a Mommy-fog since my oldest was born almost 9 years ago, but I can at least count that far.  It's one of our favorite holidays though unless you're on an American military base, not exactly a popular one here in Germany.  We decided that we'd really miss a big, old-fashioned holiday if we didn't throw one ourselves.  But here's the problem- we'll be in Rome on the actual date.

Okay, I realize that being in Rome isn't really a problem.  In fact, I will be incredibly thankful to be able to enjoy a place I've been wanting to explore for forever.  So as I tuck into a platter of spaghetti carbonara on Thanksgiving day (and not, as a friend suggested, on wings at the Hard Rock Cafe just to say we "did" American on a very American holiday) I will be grateful for my good luck and the friends and family who will be traveling along with me to the Eternal City.

I've said before that we usually spend Thanksgiving with our "adopted" family of friends gathered in our military travels and the dinner we had this past weekend was no exception.  Sixteen friends, both old a new, crammed themselves into our home to enjoy the big turkey feast.  And we enjoyed every last bite as well as the company with which it was shared.  Thankfully, I had help preparing the meal because there's no way my tiny oven could have churned out enough food unless I spent a good three days preparing and cooking.  I love my friends, but that's just not happening.  So, except for the pumpkin pie that my oldest dropped when retrieving it from our (American-sized) refrigerator in the basement, we feasted in proper American style.

The best part about the day after Thanksgiving?  No, not the shopping- I loathe Black Friday shopping.  It's the leftovers of course!  Apple pie and cold sweet potatoes for breakfast.  Shepherd's pie made from just about every part of the meal.  Warmed pumpkin dinner rolls swiped with a dollop of the perfect cranberry sauce for a mid-morning snack. Today's offering is yet another way to use up those cranberries in case you made way too much like I did this year.  These lemon bars are a great way to break up all of the heaviness of Thanksgiving leftovers.  Bright with lemon and tart cranberry flavor and much less fussy than all of those apple pies you will have cursed just days before. 

Another great thing about the day after Thanksgiving?  You are officially allowed to listen to Christmas music.  I've got my Pandora fired up as I type this cranking out some Trans Siberian Orchestra.  Here's to a very joyous Thanksgiving and the best leftovers ever!

Cranberry Lemon Bars
Makes 12 triangles from an 8 inch tart pan or 12 squares from an 8 x 8 in square pan.
Adapted very slightly from Food & Wine magazine.  Click here for the printable.

Our mail from the States trickles in slowly here in Germany.  So the November issue of Food & Wine didn't land on my table until the day after I made my Thanksgiving feast.  Which actually worked out just fine because I spied this recipe and knew I had the perfect cranberry sauce sitting in my fridge. I didn't use the cranberry mixture the magazine suggested so I'll give you the link to my recipe below. If you have your own favorite cranberry recipe, go ahead and use it here, just promise me you won't use the stuff from the can, please? The only other changes I made were to halve the recipe because I wasn't feeding a Thanksgiving crowd and this amount is just perfect for my family and to up the amount of lemon zest in the filling.  The bars are so pretty on a dark, dreary fall afternoon and the tart/sweet taste paired with an easy, press-in crust are just right for a tired chef and tired post-Thanksgiving palate.

For the crust:
10 tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

For the lemon filling:
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 tbs all purpose flour

For the cranberry swirl:
1/3 cup of spiced cider cranberry sauce or 1/3 cup cranberries cooked with 2 tbs sugar and a pinch of cloves until sauce thickens and berries pop

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust:
In a food processor or mixer blend the butter and sugar until the butter gets slightly fluffy and creamy (about 2 minutes).  Add the flour and a pinch of kosher salt and blend until the flour is incorporated.  Press the dough evenly into an 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom or an 8 inch square baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper (let the parchment overhang the edges by an inch or two).  Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until the dough is firm.  Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden.  Cool completely before filling.

To make the lemon filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and flour. 

Assemble the tart and bake:
Blend the cranberries until smooth.  Add 1/4 cup of the lemon mixture and blend. 

Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust.  Dollop the cranberry mixture in several places over the lemon filling.  With the tip of a knife or toothpick, swirl the cranberry sauce through the lemon filling.  Bake the bars at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the filling is set.

Cool completely on a rack.  Cut into 12 wedges or squares depending on the pan you used.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tart! Ahh, Trans Siberian Orchestra, one of my favorites. Happy TG to you and your family, and have a wonderful time in Rome!