Some years I totally grinch out on the whole pumpkin spice craze, but this year I really tried. Tried Chobani’s pumpkin spice yogurt and some Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s, and didn’t care much for either of them. So before I ruin everyone else’s pumpkin party, I’m moving on. To cranberries. So let’s make a batch of brandied cranberry hazelnut bars.
No apple, no grapes, just the cran. If you’re a fan of the oaty crumble topping on a fruit crisp, you’re in luck. You’re getting 2x the oaty crumble here, and just a little fruit.
Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe, my bars get extra texture and flavor from finely chopped hazelnuts and a tipple of brandy in the cranberry filling. It’s not boozy, but if you’ve got kids in the mix, you can easily just use water or apple juice instead of brandy. These are also a great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving. You’ll need about 1 1/3 cups of sauce.
Brandied Cranberry Hazelnut BarsPrint Recipe
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. orange juice
- 2 c. fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
- 1/4 c. brandy (the cheap stuff is fine)
- 1 T. grated orange zest
- 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 c. light brown sugar
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c. rolled oats
- 1/2 c. hazelnuts, very finely chopped
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400F. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor 10-12 times until very finely chopped. It's fine if a few larger pieces remain - but just a few! Set aside
In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, orange juice, brandy, cranberries and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the sauce cooks, the cranberries will pop and the it'll begin to thicken, so be sure to stir so it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan. When done, the filling should be almost jam-like and spreadable. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Stir in the oats, hazelnuts, flour, salt and cinnamon. You may need to get in there with your hands after a bit to ensure it's evenly mixed.
Press half the bar mixture into the bottom of an 11x7x2 glass dish. Spread the cranberry filling evenly over the top, getting all the way into the corners. Top with remaining bar mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the bars are just lightly golden brown. Let cool for ~10-15 minutes and slice into 15 squares while still warm.
Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe, these cranberry bars get a tipple from a swig of brandy and some crunch from finely chopped hazelnuts.