Cranberry Almond Jingle Bars: Pretty, Festive & Delicious

Servings: 24-30 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

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Cranberry Almond Jingle Bars

They say you eat with your eyes as much as with your mouth.

Great looking food that is presented nicely seems to taste better since eating is, after all, a multi-sensory experience.

When it comes to holiday baking I’d say the eyes do even more of the eating since festive food is often more lovely and, well, festive looking than food served any other time of the year. Just look at your average cookie plate with all of the shapes, colours and coatings.

Holiday food is beautiful and we work hard to make it that way. Although it isn’t always hard work. Take these Cranberry Almond Jingle Bars, for example. A simple shortbread base sprinkled with the festive combo of cranberries and sliced almonds and then drizzled with a buttery toffee.   Even though the instructions look longish they really are quick and easy to put together.

Cranberry Almond Jingle Bars

The original recipe called for melted white chocolate drizzled overtop, which would be lovely. But when I was melting the white chocolate I burned it three times. So no chocolate drizzle and to be honest, they’re very rich and sweet as it is so they don’t need a drizzle.

If you want to dress them up a bit more melt 1/3 cup white chocolate chips (or about 1 1/2 squares of Baker’s Chocolate) and drizzle it over top once they have mostly cooled. Wait for the chocolate to set before you cut them into bars.

Cranberry Almond Jingle Bar Recipe

Adapted from Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach 

Base:

  • 1 cup + 4 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger

Topping:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Toffee Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter

To make the base:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar.
  2. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and ginger and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir just until combined.
  4. Press into a 9”x13” pan that has been lined with parchment paper. (Ensure that the parchment goes up the sides too). Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. The base will be set, but this will bake again once the topping is added so don’t worry.
  5. Leave the oven on.

To make the topping:

  1. Combine the cranberries and almonds and spread over cooked base.

To make the Toffee Glaze:

  1. Melt brown sugar, molasses and butter over low heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Pour over the cranberries and almonds.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F   Cool completely before cutting.

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Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Molasses

Servings: 8-10 serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses

Homemade cranberry sauce is the easiest of all preserves…

I grew up in a house with a cold room in the basement, that brilliant cold storage concept that got forgotten sometime during the post war building craze.

As a child I didn’t much like putting my hands into crates of potatoes in a dim room at the foot of the basement stairs, but I didn’t mind being sent down to choose a bottle of jam or pickles.

The shelves were filled with strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and raspberry jam, cranberry chutney, spiced currants, crab apple jelly a beautiful blush of clear pink, zucchini relish, mustard pickles, pickled beets and my favourite, Lady Ashburnham pickles. There were huge mason jars of dill pickles and my dad’s favourite, chow chow made with green tomatoes.

All of this stuff wasn’t necessarily labeled and in that dim room it was often hard for young eyes to discern the difference between a jar of strawberry jam, and say, a jar of cranberry chutney.

As a child in a home where preserving is a tradition this is what you believe:

  1. You believe that everyone has a cold room with old wooden shelves that sag under the weight of preserves by the time November arrives.
  2. You assume that every child arrives home from school in October to the sinus-clearing scent of cider vinegar simmering on the stove and tins of liquid paraffin in a water bath that you could dip your fingers in to make finger molds.
  3. You know that crab apple jelly only tastes good when there is no strawberry or raspberry jam left in the house.
  4. You have accidentally made (and eaten) peanut butter and cranberry chutney on toast (or some other unlikely combo).

You’d think I would have absorbed some preserving know-how from my mom, but no…

  • There was the time we decided that strawberry jam had too much sugar so we cut the amount in half and had a whole batch blow up in our basement.
  • There was the time that we bottled zucchini relish when it was too cool so the canning tops didn’t seal and we had to store it all in our fridge.
  • There was the time we made dill pickles and the garlic cloves turned blue.

These days my preserving is limited and I’m happy to receive homemade preserves as gifts, but one preserve I make faithfully year after year is cranberry sauce (mostly because it’s so easy but also because I love it with winter squash and root vegetables).

It adds a lovely dash of colour and a bright flavour to the sometimes drab-coloured plates of winter food. Even better, local cranberries are abundant in New Brunswick and easy to find at local markets.

I know there are a million recipes out there for cranberry sauce but this is my all-time favourite. It’s slightly adapted from Craig Claiborne’s timeless The New York Times Cookbook.

My adaptation —  I swapped out some of the white sugar for molasses which deepens the flavour and works beautifully with the spices. The spicing is light so you still get that bright flavour that makes cranberry sauce so wonderful on a plate of heavy food. You can omit the spices altogether, if you prefer (it’s still yummy).

Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses

Adapted from The New York Times Cookbook

  • 1 pound of cranberries, picked over and washed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  1. In a medium pot combine the cranberries, sugar, molasses and apples.
  2. Cover and place on medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Uncover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spices.
  6. The mixture will thicken as it cools but cook it a little longer if you prefer a thicker sauce.
  7. Store in the refrigerator (tis cranberry sauce will last for at least three months) or preserve in canning jars.

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Cranberry walnut brittle – the delicious & nutritious in one sweet bite

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I have never been much of a candy maker but I love the look of shiny brittle so figured that it’s worth making once a year.

And as far as homemade gifts go it’s pretty spectacular. Glossy and filled to the brim with good stuff, Cranberry Walnut Brittle lets you have the delicious and the nutritious in one sweet bite. Feel free to mix in your favourite nuts and seeds.

I found the original recipe on the food blog Adventures in Cooking. They made it with honey, which I’m sure is delicious too but there is something about molasses that smells and tasts of holiday celebrations and special times spent with family and friends.

Holiday Brittle (Cranberry walnut brittle)

Adapted from www.adventuresincooking.com

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. In a large pot combine the sugars, molasses, water and salt.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over low to medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  3. Using a candy thermometer heat the mixture to 302 F. (On my stove this took close to an hour).
  4. While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan.
  5. Lightly grease the parchment paper.
  6. When the sugar mixture reaches 302 F, quickly remove from heat, stir in the butter and nuts and turn out onto the prepared pan.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to spread as thinly, and evenly as possible. The mixture will start to seize up immediately so you’ll have to work fast!
  8. Cool and break into pieces.

For more Holiday gift ideas check out our Holiday Book, a free e-book full of our favourite Holiday recieps.

This candy is chock full of good stuff!

Apple crisp with cranberries – a Thanksgiving dessert

Apple crisp recipe with cranberries gets an extra boost of flavour from a touch of molasses.

Apple crisp was a favourite dessert when I was growing up. I loved the soft tart apples but the best part was really the crunchy topping. Mom made her apple crisp with rolled oats, butter and brown sugar which to me tasted just like candy.

My mom never wrote her recipe down. Instead she just eyed it, especially when it came to sweetening the fruit. That’s the thing – the amount of sugar added to the fruit depends on how tart your apples are. I prefer firm, tart cortlands but for this recipe you can use your favourite or whatever you have on hand. The amount of molasses that I have included with the filling works for a tart apple. But if you have a really sweet tooth more is good too (up to 2/3 of a cup).

Adding molasses to the fruit makes the caramel-like sauce that forms during cooking extra rich. You could serve this with ice cream, but it doesn’t need it. (My son prefers apple crisp straight up for breakfast.)

Apple cranberry crisp

Filling:

  • 5-6 apples, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp butter for dabbing

Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened

Instructions:

For the filling:

  1. Place the apples and cranberries in a medium casserole dish.
  2. Pour over the molasses, sprinkle with cinnamon and dab with the butter.

 

For the topping:

  1. Combine the flour, rolled oats and brown sugar.
  2. Add butter and mix together into a crumble.
  3. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the apples.
  4. Bake at 375 F for 35-45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Serve hot or warm.

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Peanut Brittle

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Peanut BrittlePeanut Brittle

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsalted peanuts

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, Fancy Molasses, corn syrup and water in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and cook without stirring to 234°F. Add butter and continue cooking to 285°F, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat. Add baking soda, vanilla and peanuts and mix well. Pour into two lightly buttered baking sheets spreading as thinly as possible.