Soon enough my freezer will need to have room for this year's garden produce. As I explored the things still taking up space, I realized that I had several packages of frozen cranberries still lurking on the back shelves so I have been making a few "out of season" recipes to use them up.
I first found this cranberry "bar" recipe in a long ago newspaper food section. However, the recipe called for an 8 inch square pan, with the result much more like a cake than a bar cookie. While you can still make this as a cake, my preference has always been for the kinds of "bars" that result from using a larger 9 X 13 pan.
I also sub oil for butter and like sprinkling the walnuts over the top instead of mixing them in. This method gives the walnuts a slightly toasted flavor--and makes it easier to evenly spread the nuts over each part of the mixture. (The photo above shows the bars without nuts, as some of those who would be eating them have nut allergies.)
Cranberry Bars (or Cake)
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 c oatmeal
1 1/2 c whole cranberry sauce (15 to 16 oz can)
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Beat the oil, brown sugar, and eggs together until smooth and light colored.
2. Sift together and stir in the dry ingredients, blending just until well mixed.
2. Fold in the oatmeal and cranberry sauce until evenly mixed.
3. For cake:
Pour the batter into a well-oiled 8 inch square pan. Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top and press in lightly with the back of a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 32 to 35 minutes, until the center springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. This is the kind of cake that is best served directly from the pan.
For bar cookies:
Pour the batter into a well-oiled 9 X 12 inch pan. Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top and press in lightly with the back of a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, until the center springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Do not try to cut into bars until they have completely cooled, unless you plan to serve them directly from the pan.
NOTE: For this version, you may want to increase the amount of nuts sprinkled over the top.
If using fresh or frozen cranberries, combine 12 oz cranberries, 1/2 c sugar and 3/4 c sugar in a heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until all the berries have "popped." Allow to cool before stirring into the other ingredients.