Note: Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) drops by every Monday to share a delicious dessert recipe.
The year's biggest eating weekend is over (sigh). But there's definitely some sweet eating to be had from the little leftovers left, as proven by these cranberry nut squares. This is a revamped version of a pecan bar but composed instead with leftover cranberry sauce and the mixed nuts that played a supporting role in so many Thanksgiving recipes. The result is surprisingly crave-worthy: sweet, salty, tart, and buttery, all at once.
Not only will you enjoy eating them, but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing some of the slower-moving Thanksgiving leftovers.
- For the crust:
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the topping:
- Leftover cranberry sauce (I used a little over 1 cup) or 1 cup or so dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups nuts of your choice (I used salted, mixed nuts)
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
Make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 9x13-inch pan thoroughly, and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper so that the ends poke out on the sides— this will make your life much easier when removing the bars from the pan. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan, patting it in evenly and firmly. Bake in the center of the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden on the edges and the top has a dull look. Let cool.
Put the corn syrup and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Let the mixture cool, and then add the eggs and whisk until smooth (don't add the eggs while the mixture is still very hot, otherwise you'll have scrambled eggs!). Put off to the side for a moment while you follow the next two steps.
Spread the cranberry sauce evenly on top of the baked and cooled crust, or if you are using dried cranberries, scatter them evenly.
Scatter the nuts evenly on top of the cranberry layer.
Pour the liquid mixture over everything. It will be a thick mixture--try to pour it so that you get even coverage over the other toppings. If needed, use a spatula to distribute, but be gentle so that you do not tear up the bottom layer.
Bake in a 325°F oven (a lower temperature than you used for pre-baking the crust) for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is lightly bubbling on the sides and looks firm in the middle. Let cool thoroughly--the filling will continue to set as it cools.