Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cranberry Curd Bars with a Chocolate Pecan Crust

These are the product of a bet. No, not the kind of bet that brought you Spam Cupcakes. That was pure folly, and only netted me a silly post from Ben. This bet was pure ego. And a little bit of boredom, too.

I jokingly challenged a co-worker to a posting duel.* She agreed, and we settled on a bounty of baked goods.  I lost by a measly 1 minute and 45 seconds. I rose my fist in anger and grumbled. I conceded my loss.

And then I went back to my on-site writing lair and thought. And complained to my office mate. But mostly I thought.**

Those thoughts almost immediately turned to my stash of frozen cranberries.  I had bought a Costco-sized bag and couldn't bear a repeat of the Great Broccoli Soup Disaster of 2010. But after making Cranberry Orange Muffins, I had only eaten a handful, and only in one of two ways:
  1. Diced up and added to chocolate chip pancakes; or
  2. Microwaved and mashed into a rustic compote that is then smothered between two frozen waffles along with a few chocolate chips.
I like frozen waffles. Leave me alone.

Or better yet, focus on the trend. Chocolate and cranberries are a delicious combination.

That co-worker would agree, but she's a little shifty,*** so you should probably try for yourself.

Yeah, I'm clearly still grumbling about the bet.

*For the uninitiated, I swapped my unemployment card for an underemployment card in January. I write content for a number of legal blogs and they oddly require me to be in the office.
**Mostly I grumbled.
**Okay fine, I'm lying. She's pretty cool and her shiftiness level is about that of the average attorney. 

Cranberry Curd Bars with a Chocolate Pecan Crust
Adapted from The Kitchn

3/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened & cut into chunks

Cranberry Curd

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons lemon juice 

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks

1. For crust, coarsely grind nuts in food processor. Then add flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until finely ground, about 15 seconds. Sprinkle with butter and pulse until it resembles wet sand, about 25 seconds. The mixture will stick together if squeezed in your palm.

2. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper such that the sides hang out. This will help you lift the bars once cooled. Press the crust mixture into the baking pan as evenly as possible. (Tip: an offset spatula or a flipping spatula without holes is useful for spreading and pressing.)

3. Freeze crust for 1 hour and then bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until edges are brown. (Tip: it's visually difficult to determine when chocolate dough has browned. Lightly touch the edges of the crust. If firm, it's done.)

While crust is chilling and/or baking, make your curd. To do so:

4. Heat cranberries and 1/2 cup water in saucepan, stirring frequently. When they have all popped and turned mushy, remove from heat. Strain into a clean bowl in order to remove skins. You should have about 1 cup of cranberry puree.

5. Mix the cranberry puree, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in a clean saucepan. Whisk well to combine. Heat on medium until the curd reaches about 150F degrees, remembering to stir frequently. Strain to remove any cooked eggs.

6. Evenly pour the cranberry curd onto the crust. (Tip: return to your spatula or lightly shake the dish from side to side).

7. Bake at 350F for another 10-15 minutes until edges have set. Curd should still lightly jiggle in the center.

8. Let cool before refrigerating, and refrigerate before cutting. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar just before serving.


janet@fromcupcakestocaviar said...

Oh my yes, I'll take this. I haven't yet gotten on the cranberry/chocolate bandwagon but the idea of cranberry curd may just make me hop on. I am a curd junkie and have loved cranberry curd since I first tried it a couple of years back. Definitely trying this!

Monet said...

I haven't tried cranberry curd before, but I think I need to change it. Way to take this challenge on! These bars look great. With colder days and nights, I find myself wanting to be in the kitchen more and more. Thank you for giving me another recipe to try. I hope you are enjoying the bustle of the season. Much love from Austin.

The Duo Dishes said...

The crust sounds delicious. That's something that could be useful for a number of bars. Sorry you 'lost'! Try again next year...or just keep baking away.

Isabelle @ Crumb said...

Coincidentally enough, I'd been thinking of making cranberry curd bars for my holiday party this weekend, but wasn't sure if I should start with whole cranberries or cranberry juice concentrate... so thanks for fixing my dilemma! :)
I hadn't thought of making a chocolate crust for my bars, mind you, but that sounds positively awesome, especially with those pecans mixed in there. I'm very envious of your coworker.

Kiri W. said...

Wow, the color on this treat is gorgeous! :) I'm not a huge lover of cranberries, but with that crust underneath... I may yet be converted :)

Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) said...

I just saved this recipe. I cannot wait to make it. I love that it was baked in a 9 x 13 pan. Lots of cranberry/chocolate/pecan love to go around!

Jackie said...

I have never heard of cranberry curd but when I think about it it just seems so *logical* and I can't believe I've never thought about it before. Just shows you that I'm a bit of a numpty, eh?

These look ridiculously awesome and I have a bag of frozen cranberries in the freezer - guess what I'll be making when I get home later! ;)

Happy holidays, lovely!


Mark said...

My wife goes for the chocolate. I go for these. They look great.

Post a Comment

NOTE: I understand that Blogger is currently having issues with its commenting system. If the comment box or Captcha do not show up, or you experience other problems, please e-mail me with your browser version, whether your Java is up-to-date, and whether you are on a Mac or PC. Please feel free to send your comment my way as well--I appreciate them all and I'm sorry Blogger hates us right now.

Thank you for indulging my narcissistic tendencies and leaving a comment. My ego sincerely appreciates it. As a quick note before you leave me accolades and ask for my hand in marriage, if you need a question answered promptly, you're better off sending an e-mail or a tweet. My computer is all fancy-like and beeps at me when you do.