Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cranberry-Pecan Bourbon Bars

No spray paint was used in the baking of this recipe!
I am all about playing the Pantry Game. You know, the one where you throw open the pantry and see what you can do with whatever you have. I had just a bit of white chocolate leftover from the Thai fudge project. I had pecans and cranberries left from the cornbread Christmas stuffing. And really, when do I not have bourbon?
These bars were baked as dessert for a meal with a few friends on New Year's Eve. Really, the menu was not nearly as memorable as the cocktails. I could have served, oh, I don't know, think of the most revolting thing you have ever been served. I could have served big plates of that, and after half a French 75, you would have never noticed what was on your plate.
Anyway, this recipe could not be easier. Essentially, this is a half batch of traditional Tollhouse cookies. And everyone has that recipe down cold. Right? And if you don't, well that knowledge comes in handy if you're playing bar trivia and there's $50 worth of pizza coupons on the line.
What You Need
Don't fuss too hard to smooth the top out.
  • 113g (1 stick, ¼ lb) butter
  • 200g (1 cup, packed) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 150g (1¼ cup) whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 65g (½ cup) toasted pecan pieces
  • 100g (½ cup) white chocolate morsels
  • 55g (½ cup) dried cranberries
The foil sling: magic!
What You Do
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven preheats, toast the pecans in a metal pie plate (or any small metal baking pan/tray). By the time the oven is heated, the pecans should be toasty and fragrant.
  2. Prepare an 8x8 baking pan with a foil sling, then spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed a notch and add the egg, bourbon, and extracts. Blend.
  4. Add the flour and soda, mixing just to combine.
  5. Remove the bowl from the stand, and use a rubber spatula or spoon to fold in the nuts, chips, and cranberries.
  6. Spread the dough in the prepared pan. Bake for 25-ish minutes, until the top is smooth and dry, and a cake tester or bamboo skewer pulls almost cleanly.
  7. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lift the cookie out using the foil sling. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
What You Eat
Cut the pan into sixteen square pieces. It's the holidays, and you have already eaten your way through a monkey bread, rum cake, and a good pound and a half of fudge. No wait, that was me. Still, even if you have not recently ingested half a chocolate-chocolate-chocolate bundt cake, you probably don't need two squares worth of calories. Because each square has, and I am not kidding:
Calories 213 Protein 2.4g Vitamin B6 3.1%
Fat 11g Vitamin A 4.0% Folate 1.8%
Saturated Fat 5.1g Vitamin C 0.13% Vitamin B12 1.2%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3g Calcium 3.1% Pantothenic Acid 2.0%
Monounsaturated Fat 3.8g Iron 3.4% Phosphorus 6.3%
Cholesterol 28mg Vitamin D 1.7% Magnesium 5.1%
Sodium 63mg Vitamin E 2.0% Zinc 3.5%
Potassium 91mg Thiamin 5.3% Copper 5.1%
Carbohydrate 26g Riboflavin 3.1% Selenium 11%
Fiber 1.6g Niacin 3.0% Manganese 29%
Sugars 18g
Taste as good as they look, even if you haven't had a French 75. Or two.
What You Learn
  • Don't forget to take those pecans out of the oven. If they are already in pieces, it won't take long to toast them. If you start to smell them, check immediately. They are probably toasty enough.
  • After all the recent anguish over white chocolate versus white baking chips, in this recipe it simply does not matter. Heck, if you want to, you can even use bittersweet chocolate chips (but I do think the flavors would be better with white).
  • These are sweet. If I do this again, I will back the sugar off to ¾ cup. That means using a bit less flour as well. Unless I bump up the bourbon to compensate...
  • Easy on the orange extract. That hint of orange really complements the cranberries and the bourbon, but if your extract is strong (mine comes from Penzey's, and it is) the orange note can dominate.
  • If bourbon is not your thing...uh...why not? Ok, if you don't want to liquor up your bar cookies, then skip the bourbon entirely. Use the same amount of vanilla and orange extracts, but dial back the flour by about ¼ cup.

No comments:

Post a Comment