Thinking about the holidays makes me crave cranberries. This time of year especially, I love keeping dried ones on hand. Tart and sweet, they make nice nibbles and wake up everything from salads to side dishes.
They're also heavenly in desserts like these pecan-pie-like bars from The Mixer Bible (Robert Rose Inc., October 2013, $27.95). You get a sweet homemade crust topped with a delightful cranberry-pecan-maple-syrup-flavored filling that screams "Tis the season!" What's more, husbands (I'm talkin' Bob!) can't resist them.
Normally, I might've backed away at the mention of a "homemade crust" (my life is already complicated enough!) but there's no need here. This one is super simple because you make it using a stand mixer ... the kitchen appliance I thought I'd never use and now can't do without. Since you can toss things in the bowl, turn it on and actually walk away, it takes the work out of mixing the dough as well as the filling for these holiday-perfect treats. They're scrumptious cold and even better when warmed for a few seconds in the microwave.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt in the mixer bowl. Attach the flat beater and mixer bowl to the mixer. Set to Speed 2 and beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until dough forms a ball.
On a floured work surface, roll out dough into a 13- x 9-inch rectangle. Carefully fold twice so it is easier to transfer to the prepared pan. Unfold into the pan, pressing evenly into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Place brown sugar and butter in clean mixer bowl. Remove the flat beater and attach the whip and mixer bowl to the mixer. Set to Speed 4 and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in maple syrup. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Remove the mixer bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir in pecans, cranberries and salt until evenly incorporated.
Pour filling into dough and spread evenly in the pan. Bake in lower third of preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is set. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.
Authors: Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder
Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.
Penned: October 2013
What's Inside: 300 taste-tempting recipes for using a stand mixer to make everything from Hearty Harvest Roasted Vegetable Soup to Mocha Almond Ice Cream.
This newly expanded edition also features 125 step-by-step color photos showing how to use the author's favorite mixer attachments. Although several are discussed (who knew there was a sausage grinder?), most recipes focus on the standard flat beater, whip and dough hook. So you can keep things simple (Cheddar Cheese Biscuits made with a flat beater, please) or step up your game (think three attachments and sure-to-impress Spicy Habanero Sausage).
Time Out: 464 pages
Available: $27.95 at Amazon and most book retailers
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