These dessert bars add a festive touch to the classic apple flavor with the addition of fresh cranberries. I love the vibrant red color that cranberries add to the visual appeal of a dish and the tart taste is a welcome contrast to the sweetness of the apples and the crisp topping. The other excellent aspect of this dessert is that they can be completely made ahead of time and stored in the fridge so all you have left to do on the big Turkey Day is to warm 'em up and may I suggest topping them with either a scoop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
As I bring up ice cream, I recently learned this quick tip from The Food Network about pre-scooping the ice cream on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and storing the tray in the freezer. Game changer. No more digging deep into ice cream containers in the midst of getting guests coffee, tea and dessert. I think back to all those kiddo's birthday parties and trying to get cake and ice cream out stat. This tip is a keeper.
Back to these apple cranberry crisp bars, they take a little bit of time to make the three main layers of the crust, filling and crisp topping, but they're worth the effort. They make approximately 16 good sized bars (or you could slice them in half again for mini-desserts if you have a large dessert buffet). Here's what you'll need:
For the Crust:
-1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup) at room temperature
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 cups flour
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/3 cup cold water
For the Filling:
-6 apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
-1 1/2 cups of cranberries
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/3 cup white sugar
-juice of 1/3 of a lemon
-1 TBS cinnamon
-1 TBS flour
For the Crisp Topping:
- 1 1/2 cups oatmeal
-1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup) at room temperature
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1-2 tsp cinnamon
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, begin to assemble the crust by adding the 1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup) and 1/2 cup of sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and soft in color. Add in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix. Add in the salt and mix. The dough will be thick at this point. Slowly pour in the 1/3 cup of cold water while mixer continues to stir on a low speed and continue to stir until the dough begins to collect and clean off the sides of the bowl. Pour all of the dough out into the prepared baking dish and use clean fingers to press the dough and spread it across the dish. Note here: Each time I prep this type of dough, I swear that there isn't enough dough to cover the bottom of the 9x13 dish but there is! Just keep pressing the dough towards the edges of the pan. Set aside.
To prepare the filling, place the chopped apples and fresh cranberries in a large bowl and squeeze the juice of approximately 1/3 lemon over the fruit. Add the brown and white sugar, the cinnamon and 1 TBS of flour. Stir together. Once fully mixed, pour the filling on top of the crust in the 9x13 pan.
Lastly, to make the crisp topping, add the oatmeal, 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick), brown sugar and cinnamon to a large bowl. The easiest way to get all of these ingredients combined is to dig in with clean hands and work the butter into the other ingredients. If you really don't want to do that, you can use a fork to mash the butter into everything. Once mixed, spread the crisp topping on top of the filling in the 9x13 pan.
Bake at 350 degree for 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting or lifting the entire dish out of the baking pan by the parchment paper for cutting.
These can be stored covered in the fridge for 2-3 days before the big feast.
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!
New England wife, mom & home baker. Faith, food, fitness, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.