There is a very teeny window each year for one of my favorite fruits– the blissfully tart cranberry. I go crazy for cranberry while these little ruby gems are in season, and then I always buy plenty to freeze for those way-too-long stretches in between.
My Mom used to make these sweet tart cranberry bars at this time of year. They are absolutely delicious with a hot cup of coffee or tea. But truth be told, they are just pretty awesome by themselves, too.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Cranberry Pecan Bliss Bars
(Adapted from Taste of Home and my Mom’s recipe)
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 bag fresh cranberries (can use frozen but baking times will need to be adjusted)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
To make the cake cream butter and sugar together until crumbs turn into a soft creamy mixture (this will take 2-3 minutes of beating). Add in eggs, one by one, while the mixer is running. Add in almond extract and mix. Slowly stir in flour just until combined. Fold in cranberries and chopped pecans and pour batter into greased, foil-lined 13×9 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until cake tests done– do not overbake. When cake is cool whisk together glaze ingredients and drizzle over cake. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars and serving.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again:
“Cold Ingredients are the Enemy of Good Cookies.”
Well kiddos, this same sage advice goes for most baked goods (except quick breads, like biscuits, where the butter has to be cold to be “cut in”). When your butter and eggs are at room temperature before you start, they will be warm and mellow and ready to mingle when you mix. Your baked goods will thank you.
When you first start creaming together your sugar and butter, it won’t seem like everything wants to come together. The mixture will just look like crumbs, but keep mixing. After about 3 minutes of mixing your creation will become a soft solid. There you go. You did it. Told you that you could. Let’s move on.
Next, keep your mixer running and add in your room temperature eggs, one by one. Mix a little bit after each egg is added. Adding the eggs one by one will keep your mixture nice and creamy. Stop your mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the butter gets incorporated, and mix a few times just to make sure it’s all combined. See? You’re a natural at this.
Add in your almond extract and “give it a whirl.” Haha.
Next add in your all purpose flour and slowly mix. I say slowly because if you decide to go your own way and hit the mixer on high speed, get ready to start singing “White Christmas.” Because your whole kitchen will be covered in a nice floury dusting of powdery snow. Trust me on this and don’t ask me how I know. (*wipes flour, embarrassed, from every counter top and surface and tries to look like I did it on purpose . . .)
After you’ve added the flour go ahead and fold in the cranberries and chopped pecans. Try to be gentle with the batter so that you don’t smoosh all those pretty little ruby cranberries. I prefer using fresh cranberries, but you can use frozen ones, too. Just add them frozen to the batter and add a few minute to your baking time.
The batter will be very thick– almost like a stiff cookie dough. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. It helps to put the batter into the pan in spoonfuls and then use an offset spatula to gently smooth the batter into place.
Bake your cake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until it passes the toothpick test. *Note: if you used frozen cranberries you might have to cover the cake with foil toward the end of baking time and give it a few extra minutes so that it gets finished in the center without getting too brown on top.
We don’t want the top of our cake getting overly brown and leathery like seniors on a Florida beach. 😉
When the cake is done, let it cool a little bit and then drizzle with the glaze. Of course, you could be a spoilsport and not use glaze. Yeah. You could give up chocolate, too. Let’s pretend we’re going to do that for a minute.
Ok that was fun now let’s all throw back our heads and laugh. Give up chocolate and glaze. Bwahaha. That’s funny.
Ok now add the glaze. Cranberries need a little “sugah.” haha.
Remove the glazed cake from the pan using the foil when it’s cool, and cut it into bars. You can cut boring old squares if you REALLY want to, or you can cut cool triangles or diamonds. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, after all. Make a ton of them.
Serve with coffee or tea, and good company. There’s nothing better on a crisp fall evening than the warmth of friendship and family.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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