Scientifically Sweet: Cranberry Orange Pistachio Bars

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cranberry Orange Pistachio Bars

2015 seems like a big number.

I feel like I need to do a lot of stuff this year. Big stuff... like make a 12-tiered cake and travel to Japan for the finest sushi. I want to learn more words in Thai and fall asleep on every beach I see. I want to spend more time with family and feed them big delicious meals. I'm going to worry less and plan more. I want a puppy! (but maybe not this year...)

How about a big fat hair cut? I've always wanted a buzz cut but Britney Spears made that just look crazy.

For now I'll just help you use up the excess dried cranberries and surplus of clementines from this season. You have some right? I feel like you do...

It's not often you come across baking recipes that use the orange fruit. Plenty make use of the zest. Cookies, cakes, custards all welcome some freshly microplaned orange zest.

This recipe uses the rest of the fruit minus the bitter pith. It's amazing what cooking an orange does to its flavour. It changes from fresh sweet and tangy to caramel-y and molasses-like with a very slight bitterness.

The topping on these bars is marmalade-y. It's sweet and sour and super fruity.

The base is a pistachio shortbread-type cookie. The addition of egg kinda removes it from the shortbread category, making it crisp but soft all at the same time rather than super crumbly and short. It's a bit more solid than a shortbread but the ground pistachios and pastry-blend technique help to keep it feeling tender and tasting buttery.

That earthy, slightly bitter nuttiness from the pistachios tastes so right with the tangy sweet fruit.

These will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and taste marvellous cold.

The pistachio base alone, dipped in dark chocolate would be like whaaaaaat? Amazing.


Cranberry Orange Pistachio Bars
Makes 18 bars 

For the base:
1/3 cup (50g) shelled natural pistachios
1 cup plus 2 tbsp (160g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp (84g) cold butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
1 ½ cups (200g) dried cranberries, divided
½ cup water plus 5 tbsp, divided
1 peeled orange or 2 peeled clementines, chopped
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp orange or clementine zest
¼ cup chopped pistachios for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the base, combine pistachios, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the pistachios are quite finely ground. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine crumbs. Whisk egg with vanilla extract in a small dish and drizzle into food processor while pulsing until the mixture becomes crumbly and holds together in clumps. Press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan and refrigerate while you make the topping.

To make the filling, combine dried cranberries and ½ cup water in small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until cranberries are plump, about 5 minutes total. Stir in chopped orange. Stir together corn starch with remaining 5 tbsp water to make a slurry and stir into fruit mixture. Bring to the boil while stirring and then stir through zest.

Spread the cranberry topping over the crust, scatter chopped pistachios over top and bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before slicing. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
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  1. Those sound fabulous! Great way to spice up shortbread :)

  2. This sound so good! I'm hopng they will freeze well. What do you think?

    1. I've never frozen these. There's not a lot of sugar in the fruit topping so I don't think they would take well to freezing - you'd have to wrap them really well! They keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge though.


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