Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

This only looks like it takes a long time – too many unnecessary directions! They’re easy and really good!

Yields about thirty-five 1 3/4” square bars

For the crust and streusel:
10 ½ oz (1 cup plus 5 T.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
1 c. granulated sugar
¾ t. salt
2 large egg yolks
15 ¼ oz (3 cups plus 3 T) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the cranberry topping:

12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1 c. granulated sugar

Make the crust: Line a straight-sided 13 x 9” metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, ¾ c. of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour to make stiff dough. Transfer about 2 c. of the dough to the prepared pan, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.

Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and another near the top. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake the dough until the curst begins to set but does not brown at all on the edges (the center will not be firm yet), and about 20minutes. While the crust bakes, prepare the streusel and the topping.

Make the streusel:

With your fingers, combine the remaining ¼ c. granulated sugar with the reserved dough until crumbly. I also added some chopped pecans. The mixture should hold together when pressed, but readily break into smaller pieces.

Make the cranberry topping:

In a medium saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to thick syrup, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool 5 to 10 minutes – the syrup will continue to thicken as the mixture cools.

Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the hot crust. Scatter the streusel over the cranberries (don’t crumble the streusel too much or the texture will be sandy). Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the bars near the top of the oven until the streusel is gold and set, about 25 minutes. Baking these bars at the top of the oven helps the streusel brown faster without overbrowning the crust.

Place the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour. For faster cooling, put the bars in the fridge once the pan is no longer piping hot.

When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1 ¾” squares. They will keep at room temperature for 1 week.

Fine Cooking, December 2006

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