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Writing under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack on Dec. Franklin was known to enjoy food, including cranberries, which he mentioned several times in his writings.
Calories Per Serving195
Folate equivalent (total)26µg7%
These low carb Cranberry Shortbread Streusel Bars boast a crunchy, buttery crust, topped with a sweet and tart cranberry layer and a toasty pecan streusel topping. Perfect for breakfast or a sweet treat, these will be your new favorite cranberry bars!
Recently a fellow low carb blogger put out a request for cranberry themed recipes for an upcoming roundup post, and I realized that I didn&rsquot have very many to offer.
There were a couple of main dishes &ndash like these festive turkey meatballs with cranberry glaze, and my cranberry apricot glazed ham, but no baked goods or treats of any kind that celebrated the beautiful and complex cranberry!
So I set out to remedy the problem last week and got to baking these incredibly tasty cranberry shortbread streusel bars. (Also a delicious low carb cranberry themed coffee cake which I&rsquoll post later this week&hellip)
This is the kind of easy low carb cookie recipe that I just love, since I&rsquom not about spending hours fussing over impossibly pretty baked goods that will be devoured in minutes anyway.
The shortbread crust is similar to the one I use for my popular low carb Raspberry Linzer Cookie Bars, and is pressed into the pan with no rolling required. Meanwhile the cranberries are simmered on the stove until popped and thickened, then cooled slightly and spread over the partially baked crust.
A toasty layer of lightly cinnamon flavored streusel and chopped pecans adorns the top and pulls it all together into the most satisfying cookie bar I&rsquove eaten in AGES.
These fantastic keto cranberry shortbread streusel bars go from start to finish in less than an hour, with very little hands on time required &ndash so you can definitely get lots of other cooking, cleaning, or Netflix binge-watching done during the process!
In addition, these cookie bars freeze really well &ndash aaaand I personally recommend going the freezing route so that you don&rsquot eat them all in less than 24 hours.
Not that I&rsquod know from experience or anything.
I used Cointreau in my cranberry jelly, which is an orange flavored liqueur. You can substitute Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, or if you prefer to leave out the alcohol (it cooks off anyway, leaving just the flavor behind), you can sub 1/2 tsp orange extract or omit it altogether!
Xanthan gum is hard to get here in Belize, so I used arrowroot powder to thicken my cranberry jelly enough to set. You can use an equal amount of xanthan or guar gum to get the same results. If you omit it, the recipe will still work but the cranberry layer will be a little gooier &ndash not necessarily a bad thing!
I just know you guys are going to enjoy these cranberry shortbread streusel bars as much as we did, so please make them soon and report back to let us know how it went!
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 7- by 11-in. pan. In a food processor, whirl flour, oats, and sugar 10 seconds. Add 1 cup butter whirl until mixture forms a ball. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture. Whirl in yolks.
Press yolk mixture into pan. Spread with preserves. Sprinkle on cranberries, nuts, and chocolate chips, then press into dough. Form pea-size crumbs with reserved dough mixture sprinkle over top.
Bake at 350° until topping is pale gold, 45 minutes. Cool on a rack drizzle with melted white chocolate. Cut into 24 bars.
After Thanksgiving, I&rsquom always stuck with an odd amount of cranberries that didn&rsquot make it into my favorite orange cranberry sauce, a pie, or a crisp. I usually just freeze them to use at Christmas but after making these bars, I now have the perfect use for leftover cranberries!
These cranberry bars aren&rsquot your typical jam-filled fruit bars. They&rsquore definitely a little different. And better! I found a recipe for crustless cranberry pie that I was excited to try and wanted to add a streusel topping to make it extra special. But no matter what topping I tried, it weighed down the batter too much for it to rise. It made sense as the recipe doesn&rsquot have any leavener in it, but I actually loved the result, which is what I&rsquom sharing with you today.
The day that you make these, the cake base is like a dense coffee cake. It&rsquos really delicious but on the second and third days? They&rsquore even better! They get moister and even more irresistible, making them a perfect treat for Christmas, holiday parties, or basically &ndash whenever! If you plan to let them sit overnight, I recommend icing the bars the day of serving, just to be on the safe side.
The cake and the icing have such a lovely almond flavor which goes incredibly well with the cranberries. If you&rsquore not a big fan of almond extract, you can use vanilla extract in its place. Orange extract would also pair wonderfully with the cranberries!
The part that really throws these over the top for me is the icing. The bars are sweet enough without the icing, but almond flavored icing? That&rsquos just destined to improve anything it touches! My husband is a bit of an odd duck and said he preferred these bars without the icing. I just don&rsquot understand him sometimes.
To make these cranberry bars gluten-free, I tried several different mixtures of gluten-free flours. Everything worked fine in the cake portion but what a mess the streusel was! So I turned to this 1-to-1 baking flour and it came out perfectly.
For more gluten-free Christmas treats, check out these cranberry orange muffins or these mint chocolate chip brownies. Really now &ndash gluten-free baking doesn&rsquot have to mean dry and crumbly!
Who doesn’t like a good cookie bar? These are just the right combination of shortbread buttery sweetness with the tanginess of cranberries. I have not made these for a while and forgot how good they were. In fact they were so good I made a second batch a few days later. And yes, I shared them.
This recipe is from Fine Cooking. They have a web site with their recipes, but they also have a magazine which I have been getting since they started. I have learned so much about cooking from them. I encourage you to check the magazine out. It is enjoyable when you know how to make something and have good results.
To get started you will need the following:
For the crust and streusel:
For the cranberry topping:
Make the crust:
Line a straight-sided 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Transfer about 2 cups 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°F.
Bake the dough until the crust begins to set but does not brown at all on the edges (the center will not be firm yet), about 20 minutes. While the crust bakes, prepare the streusel and the topping.
Make the streusel:
With your fingers, combine the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the reserved dough until crumbly. 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 1/4 cup water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to boil until the liquid is reduced to a 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°F and bake the bars near the top of the oven until the streusel is golden 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, or even outside in winter.)
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 1-3/4-inch squares.
I hope you enjoy these delicious bars. I use to buy fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving and freeze them so we could enjoy these later in the year. Now you can get the frozen cranberries at most grocery stores all year long.
last updated on May 4, 2021 by Christine Pittman
I followed the directions almost exactly and the cranberry bars were delicious! I added chopped pecans to the top streusel. They were quite crumbly but firmed up much better in the refrigerator. I probably would prefer a more solid (less crumbly–perhaps a shortbread?) bottom crust if I were to take them somewhere as finger treats, but it was a great recipe and my family loved them. I would make them again.
Found this recipe because I was googling how to use extra Cranberry sauce and I’m glad I did! It was easy and delicious. I made this vegan by subbing in softened vegan butter. Very tasty and made our forgotten Cranberry sauce the star of breakfast!
That’s fantastic, Leah! Glad it didn’t go to waste.
This is such a great recipe. I’ve made it twice since Thanksgiving and it’s turned out fantastic every time. My husband and I love it! We also like to store them in the fridge when not eating them to let everything really set together. I also like to top my bar with a little whipped cream before eating. So good! :)
Having left over cranberry sauce, I stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it a try!
My kids loved them!! I served it with yogurt in a bowl (less messy with toddlers)
the sides did turn out crumbly but we really enjoyed it.
Thank you for sharing this simple but tasty recipe.
Will try with jam next time since the kids are asking for more!
That’s wonderful! Glad it was a hit with the kids.
I made them and they are delicious. Need a little more cook time to firm them up. I worked the softened butter in the dry ingredients well. Will make again.
Great, Shirley! So happy you enjoyed.
I made these easy and tasty bars today with leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving! They were DELICIOUS!! I let it cool slightly and just had to try a small piece, since they smelled soooo good and I honestly couldn’t wait to try them! My cranberry sauce was tart, so it paired well with the sweetness of the brown sugar. If it wasn’t tart, I would probably cut back on the brown sugar. I used 2 cups of cranberry sauce, that’s what I had left, and it worked out well! I have read quite a few comments about the difficulty of incorporating the butter into the flour/brown sugar mixture and I used my food processor to “blend” the butter into the flour. I had added the flour, brown sugar etc., into the food processor. I have to tell you that in the middle of assembling everything, I got distracted and actually forgot to add the baking powder, salt and baking soda and they still tasted delicious!! The butter was very cold (almost frozen) but I was able to cut it into “cubes” and added it into the top of the processor (in the “chute”) and pulsed it while pushing the butter “cubes” into the flour mixture. I just kept pulsing until the mixture came together. It was very easy and everything was incorporated nicely. I then followed the rest of the recipe, pressing the “crust” in the pan and so on!! I have more cranberries in my freezer and will definitely be making this again! Thank you again for sharing your recipe!! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Thank you for sharing how you handled the process, Lina. Glad you enjoyed enough to make again!
Just made this recipe as written, and they are delicious!! They were still a bit too soft after 25 min so I did end up baking for 35. They also freeze beautifully – I just pop a frozen bar in my toaster oven to warm them up again. Yum!
Wonderful! Thanks for the tip about freezing.
Making these as I type this. I made homemade cranberry jelly for Thanksgiving and saw this recipe and decided to give it a try. I’m hoping it turns out good!!
This is delicious, people are funny about adding eggs and all this other stuff saying the consistency is wrong… they are similar granola bars, it’s not a cake!! With that being said…. What a workout for your hands!… it is difficult to get the butter all mixed in….. I used the paddle on my stand up mixer and alternated between letting that go and doing it by hand… it made it so much easier and worked great. So delicious and a good thing to have on hand for an on-the-go breakfast
Thanks for the feedback, Jennifer!
Jennifer, I recently tested the recipe with softened butter instead of cold and it worked perfectly. I have changed the recipe above to reflect that. With the softened butter it is MUCH easier to work into the dry ingredients, and since we’re not trying to get a flaky pastry crust or anything like that, the butter temperature doesn’t seem to matter. Thanks for your comment and I’m so happy you liked the recipe.
FYI if you use instant oats or quick oats and not old fashioned oats it will act as flour and the result will be dry and crumbly. Might be why it didn’t work out for some people. Mine were great!
Thank you for the input, Wendy!
The basic flour – butter ratio seems to be off. It results in a base that doesn’t properly form (just all crumbly) as the amount of fat is far too low to bind properly with the flour and oats. It also effects the streusel topping, which turned out just like the base – far too crumbly because of not enough fat (butter). I suspected this would happen when I read the ingredient list, but reading the other positive reviews, decided to stay true to the recipe. Sorry, but this was a disappointment.
CookinVictoria, This recipe was my mom’s and she has made it at least 30 times and I have made it at least 20 times, and it has a lot of great comments on it too. So when I read your comment I was confused. There has been the odd negative comment before but most have been positive, or exuberant even. So I decided to make a new batch to resolve my confusion once and for all. I happened to have a can of cranberry sauce and some oats so it was easy enough.
The recipe worked perfectly. The bars turned out great and everyone at my house likes them. However, as I was making the recipe I realized something. The original instruction said to rub the cold butter into the flour mixture until butter pieces are no bigger than the oats. That was completely incorrect and I think I was writing out of habit because a lot of other recipes (like for pastry and other crusts) that use cut up cold butter use that phrasing.
Instead, what I actually do, and what I should have written, is to rub the butter into the flour until it is completely gone. That is, until your fingers have essentially melted it and rubbed it until it is actually coating the flour particles and oats. You shouldn’t be able to see any specks of butter. I have edited the instructions in the above recipe to say that. I suspect that the problem was that too much of the dry ingredients didn’t have fat on them, so those patches in the crust ended up crumbly due to not being bound together.
Note, I’m going to try making the recipe again next week using softened butter. I think that will be much easier to work into the dry ingredients, and it will ensure that nobody (me or anyone) thinks that the butter is supposed to be in small pieces, like for pastry, when it is actually meant to be fully incorporated. I might also try it using melted butter. I guess it depends on if we get sick of cranberry bars or not!
Thank you for your feedback. My sincere apologies for the recipe not turning out.
This is the tastiest way to use up cranberry sauce leftovers, but mine came out entirely too sweet for my family. Next time I’ll be cutting way back on the brown sugar.
Make Ahead Tips
The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 square cake pan with one sheet of parchment paper so that there is a one-inch overhang.
Make the Cranberry Filling:
Combine cranberries, sugar, ginger and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and mashing cranberries with a wooden spoon, until thick and jammy, about 7 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and orange zest, remove from heat and let cool while you prepare the crust. Filling cools faster if you spread in a pie plate. You should have about 2 cups of filling.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours and salt set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Add in the flour and beat until just combined. Measure out ⅔ cup of the dough and set aside (to be used in streusel). Press the remaining dough evenly into the prepared baking pan.
Using a fork, mix the reserved ⅔ cup of dough with the pine nuts, rolled oats and salt.
Spread the cranberry filling evenly on top of the crust. Scatter the streusel evenly on top of the cranberry filling and using your hands, gently press the streusel down onto the cranberry filling.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into bars.
I had a request for these earlier this year, but since it was March and I was heading into spring recipes, I had to make a note of it for later. Luckily it’s finally cranberry season so I can make this idea a reality. Cranberry orange is such a great combination, and turning it into streusel bars is the best kind of request you can get!
You start with a shortbread crust, which is lightly baked before being topped with a homemade cranberry orange filling. Then it’s topped with a streusel and baked into crunchy perfection. And since I feel like no bar is complete with frosting, they’re topped with a coconut orange glaze.
The shortbread crust and streusel topping are the exact same mixture. Which means you can mix it all together in one bowl, making this even easier.
Keep back 1/3 of the mixture back for the streusel topping. Then pat the other 2/3 into the baking pan.
I par bake/or lightly bake the crust to keep it from getting soggy. Then it’s topped it with the cranberry filling and streusel, and baked again.
Once the bars have cooled a bit, you can glaze them.
I just love the way the glaze looks on these streusel bars, it really adds to their ‘coffee shop’ appeal. You know the bars I’m talking about right, they’re the ones that seem to be in any coffee shop you walk into.
They’re all drizzle-y gooey and beckoning from the display case on your way to place your order. And since it’s always the glaze that catches my eye, I always glaze my homemade versions!
*Spoon & Sweep method: Use a spoon to fill measuring cup with flour until required amount is obtained. Scooping measuring cup directly into flour bag will firmly pack flour resulting in too much flour required for recipe.