Friday, December 28, 2012

Cranberry Lemon Squares

It seems as though my holiday break this year has been characterized by a few things, namely cooking and knitting. I have become slightly obsessed with knitting in the past month and have made several scarves as holiday gifts for friends and family. I have fallen into somewhat of a nightly ritual as I sit on the couch each evening watching Friends and knitting yet another scarf. I don’t know exactly how long this new obsession of mine will last…it could just be a passing thing or it could stick like my love of cooking. In any case I am quite proud of the results so far and everyone who received one of my scarves as a gift thanked me with kind words and lots of hugs.

Besides the knitting, I have also been in the kitchen quite a bit these past few weeks. I almost feel like it’s making up for lost time as I was so busy before. Along with cooking and baking some family favorites I have also had the chance to try out some recipes that I had been saving for a while.
One such recipe was for these cranberry lemon squares. I don’t know why cranberries are associated with the holidays considering they taste good year round. Maybe it has to do with the traditional cranberry sauce that most people eat with their holiday turkey this time of year. Regardless of the reason, the extra emphasis on cranberries during the holiday season makes me crave them in my cooking and baking. 

These little squares I baked up the other day were a perfect cranberry treat because of the wonderful combination of flavors. The sweet, buttery, lemon-zested crust was contrasted beautifully by the tartness of the cranberry filling. I greatly enjoyed these squares because they were quite similar to my grandmother’s berry crumb bars, but the fact that there were whole cranberries in the filling gave it an extra pop and burst of flavor in the mouth. Once again another holiday success!

Cranberry Lemon Squares 

For the dough:
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (juice reserved for filling)
  • 1 cup, cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
For the filling:
  • 1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 500 grams)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Reserved lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  1. Combine the ingredients for the filling and set aside. 
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest.
  3. Using a food processor or mixer, slowly mix in the cubed butter pieces. The butter should become coated in the crumbly mixture and become the size of little peas. Don't overmix.
  4. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and a few tablespoons of water. The dough will remain crumbly but it should be easy to clump together.
  5. Press about ¾ of the dough down into a parchment-lined 9" x 13" pan. Spread the filling over top. The cranberries will not cover all of the dough but try to spread them out evenly all over the pan.
  6. Use your fingers to crumble the remaining dough over top of the filling. Don't press it down.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or until the dough on top becomes golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.          

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