Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cranberry Lemon Bars

One new cooking task I took on in the last year was to serve dinner, once a month, to a group of 40 people.  On Wednesday nights my kids go to a program called Awana, and the helpers and their families get to come early and eat dinner before it starts.  There is a rotation for who makes the dinners- and this year they were looking for some more people to help.  So once a month, from September to April, I have made dinner for 40.  It's a logistical challenge, that's for sure, but I enjoyed getting to use my cooking talents in this way.

That said- last night was my last Awana dinner for this school year, and this is the dessert I made for it.  I love that it makes a good amount (36 small bars), is pretty easy, and can be made ahead of time.  The little bit that is left is now two days old, and it still tastes as good as it did the first day. 

The crust & topping is a combination of flour, oats, butter, and brown sugar, and the filling is my favorite part- it includes sour cream, sugar, dried cranberries, and lemon zest.  It's creamy, sweet, a little tart- it's nicely balanced and easy to eat!  The hardest part might be trying to stop eating it!

Cranberry Lemon Bars
Printable version here

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Combine oats, salt, and 1 1/2 cups flour; add to the creamed mixture until blended.  Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this for topping.

2. Press remaining crumb mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons flour, cranberries, sour cream, sugar, egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.  Spread evenly over crust.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  Store in refrigerator. (Tip- these cut easiest when cold) Can be made up to two days ahead of time.

Yield: about 36 bars (Cut into 6x6)

Recipe source: Taste of Home (Sour Cream Cranberry Bars, slightly altered)

Why I love it? I like that it uses natural ingredients that I almost always have on hand.  It's easy to make, stores well, and tastes great!  It's sweet with just the right level of tartness. 

1 comment:

  1. Do you have to use quick cooking oats? I always have old fashioned oats on hand but never quick cooking. Is there that much of a difference? Great recipe -- can't wait to try it!