Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cranberry Turtle Bars

These are likely to become a holiday tradition - Cranberry Turtle Bars.  Of course they are delicious any time, but the cranberries and pecans make me think of Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that is when I am probably most likely to make them. 

Cranberry Turtle Bars
adapted a bit from Gourmet magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, whole
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups pecans, tasted and cooled, then coarsely chopped

2 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle.  Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the 2 shorts sides.  Butter all 4 sides but not the bottom.

Blend flour, brown sugar and salt in a food processor, then add butter and pulse until the mixture begins to form small lumps (pea-sized).  Sprinkle the lumps into the prepared pan, then press down firmly all over with a metal spatula and/or your hands to form an even layer.  Bake 15-17 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.  Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel registers 245F on a candy thermometer.  This will take about 8 minutes.  Carefully stir in cranberries, and boil until caramel again reaches 245F.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Stir in pecans until well coated.  Working quickly, spread caramel topping over base, using a fork to distribute nuts and cranberries evenly.  Cool completely.

Lift bars in foil from pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 36 bars, or however many you choose.  Melt half of the chocolate on the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl placed over a saucepan with barely simmering water, stirring until smooth.  Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in in the remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth.  With a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate in a thin drip decoratively over the bars.  OR put the melted chocolate in a small heavy-duty zip-lock bag, snip off a tiny piece of one corner, and pipe the chocolate over bars.  Let the bars stand at room temperature until the chocolate sets, about one hour.

Store in an airtight container, with waxed or parchment paper between layers, for about 1 week, or refrigerate/freeze.
Printable Recipe

I confess that when I made this recipe I used way more chocolate than the recipe suggested, and honestly, it was too much.  I know, that sounds like crazy-talk, but that much chocolate actually detracted from the cranberry/pecan flavors, instead of enhancing it.  So the 2 ounce amount is better. 

Serve these at a holiday function.  Or wrap them in a pretty container and give them as a gift!  Or hide them away and don't tell anyone you have them so you can eat them all yourself - a very tempting idea...

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