Healthier apricot carrot cake

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Cake with vegetables sounds healthy, but is usually far from it. This version lightens up the traditional recipe with dried apricots, applesauce, and coconut sugar; reduces the fat and swaps in coconut oil; and swaps out half of the white flour for whole wheat. Add in walnuts for Omega-3s (or leave them out to make this school safe) and you have a healthier option for your Easter table that’s equally delicious and showstopping.

Take me to the cake!

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I’m still struggling with the eternal question: Is it worth it to healthify desserts? If my kid factors into the equation, then yes. He’s often satisfied with a “healthy” sweet. I, on the other hand, really wanted a doughnut for breakfast and no amount of healthy treats was going to cut it.

However! If there’s a recipe ripe for healthifying, a dessert starring a vegetable is it.

I started recipe testing this cake by dumping everything into a bowl and calling it a day. The results were delicious, but dense, so I decided to do as others have done and whip the eggs and sugar at the start to make the crumb a bit lighter. Often, cake directions tell you to cream butter and sugar / butter and eggs / sugar and eggs (as in this case) until they’re “light and fluffy.” Unfortunately, the coconut sugar is so dark that you’ll never really achieve this. What you want instead is just to aerate the eggs, sugar, and other liquids. Don’t worry about it too much, just make sure that you see lots of bubbles once all of the liquid is combined.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Alone, this cake is delicious, but tastes like a muffin or a quick bread, not a cake. But slathered in cream cheese frosting, this is a CAKE.

Can I tell you a secret about making the frosting? I don’t measure the sugar. You heard that: I don’t measure the sugar. I mix in a couple of large spoonfuls and then add more to taste. I like a frosting that isn’t too sweet and the beauty of cream cheese frosting is the tang, which gets totally masked by too much sugar.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Apricot carrot cake

Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Natasha’s Kitchen

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 45 minutes of active time, including frosting the cake)
Yield: 8 GIANT slices, 10-12 normal slices

1 cup apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp flour (AP or Whole Wheat)
4 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry or white whole wheat are also great)
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp fine sea salt
12 oz carrots; trimmed, peeled, and shredded (about 3 cups, lightly packed shredded carrots)
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 375.

Grease two 9-inch cake pans, or a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with melted coconut oil or cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, chop the apricots and toss with 1 Tbsp of flour (either AP or whole wheat). Set aside.

Toast your walnuts in the preheating oven, keeping an eye to ensure that they don’t burn while you continue prepping your other ingredients. Set aside.

Trim, peel, and shred your carrots. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes on a medium high setting (or on high if your hand mixer isn’t very strong). The eggs won’t get lighter in color because the coconut sugar is quite dark, but you will see lots of little air bubbles formed and the volume of the liquid should increase.

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low (medium-low for a hand mixer) and slowly add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

Sift the dry ingredients together into the wet ingredients. Fold until just combined and no lumps remain.

Fold in the carrots, apricots, and toasted walnuts (if using).

Pour half of the mixture into each cake pan (or, fill each muffin cup until about 2/3 full).

Bake, rotating halfway through, for 20-23 minutes for the cakes or 15-18 minutes for the muffins. You want the cakes to be springy when touched and for a tester to come out with a few crumbs or clean.

Let the cake cool entirely before icing.


Cream cheese frosting
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to taste

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer or your hand mixer, combine and whip the butter and cream cheese on high for 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and whip on medium to combine.

Add the powdered sugar a few Tbsp at a time and SLOWLY whip the sugar into the rest of the mixture on low (otherwise you’ll have powdered sugar all over your kitchen). Once the initial amount of powdered sugar is incorporated, add more, a few Tbsp at a time, to taste. When all of the sugar you want is incorporated, turn the mixer back to high and whip for 3-4 more minutes.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes



Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen

Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking
Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking

Don’t hate me, but my favorite cookie holiday is Purim. Not Christmas. Not Valentine’s Day. Purim. I love a hamantaschen almost more than any other cookie. Is that weird? I don’t care.

Jump to the recipe!

Why do I love these cookies so much? I think it’s because Purim means that spring is FINALLY here. I reached the nadir of my winter depression last week but we’re making our way back. I can see grass again! We have an extra hour of light! We have green buds popping up despite still-freezing temperatures!

Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking
Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking
Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking

I rejiggered my hamantaschen dough recipe from last year because I wanted the cookie to be slightly more crumbly. I also left out the baking powder because my (and probably everyone who’s ever made hamantaschen) biggest pet peeve about this cookie is that it can open up during baking and lose it’s shape. Whelp, if you leave out the baking powder, there’s a lot less leavening happening. Problem solved.

Also, I stand corrected about one hamantaschen-related statement: Last year I didn’t think that freezing the dough after forming the cookies made a difference, but this year, it did. Go figure.

Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking

A couple of notes:

  • I used a store-bought lemon curd, but feel free to make your own. It will bubble out while the cookies bake, but you can always fill in any holes that develop with a bit more curd once the cookies cool.

  • There is a teeny amount of cardamom in this recipe because I didn’t want the cookies to taste too strongly of cardamom. The little hint of it actually makes the lemon taste more lemony.

Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen


6 Tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Heaping ¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppyseeds
1/8- 1/4 tsp cardamom
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp lemon curd per cookie

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl in the microwave until half melted (heat on high for 30 seconds and then in 10 second bursts until your butter is only half formed). Stir the butter to let the residual heat of the melted half take care of the half that is still solid. Let cool slightly.

Add the sugar, vanilla, and eggs and whisk to combine thoroughly.

Add the salt, poppyseeds, and cardamom, and stir again.

Add ½ of the flour and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until the dough comes together. Use your hands to get the last bits of flour to come together in the dough. If it feels too flaky or dry, mix in some water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until the dough feels slightly wet, all of the flour is easily incorporated, and there are minimal cracks along the edges of the dough when squished down.   

Divide the dough into two discs, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350.

After 20 minutes, roll out the dough to 1/8th of an inch on a floured surfaced with a floured rolling pin. (Be liberal with the flour as this is a sticky dough. If it feels too sticky to work with, put back in the freezer for 5 minutes and try again.)

Cut out 2.5-inch circles and transfer them to a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Fill the center of each circle with ½ tsp lemon curd.

Fold the cookie dough into a triangle by folding and pinching three sides of the circle together.

Bake the cookies for 5 minutes and rotate in the oven. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies are browned but the tops are still light, about 4-5 minutes more.

If lots of the filling has bubbled out, let the cookies cool and add another ½ tsp of the lemon curd.

Yield: 36 cookies

Lemon poppyseed hamantaschen | Me & The Moose. These hamantaschen are a twist on a classic and a quick-cooking spring-y cookie. #meandthemoose #hamantaschen #lemonpoppyseed #cookies #cookierecipes #purim #Jewishrecipes #baking #easybaking

Orange and almond upside down cake

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

Jump to the recipe!

Upside down cakes, specifically citrus upside down cakes, are a dime a dozen this time of year. And I get it! Citrus is where it’s at in the winter and what else do you do with the giant bag of oranges or lemons that you find in your fridge?

Also, WTF do you do with kumquats? I always want to buy them because I’m a sucker for anything miniature, but they freak me out. And I’ll be honest: I’ve read online that you can eat them raw, skins and all. STRONG DISAGREE. The ones I’ve had are entirely too bitter to eat without any cooking. But this cake is the magical trick!

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

I love this cake for many reasons, but primarily because it’s less sweet and naturally gluten-free. It bakes in under 30 minutes, you only need one bowl, AND it’s fancy enough for company, but simple enough for a weeknight.*

* (Don’t you love when people say that? Who has time for dessert on a weeknight?? But if you did, this would be the cake to make.)

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

A couple of notes:

  • To make this cake dairy-free, just sub in some non-dairy yogurt and use clarified butter or coconut oil for the syrup.

  • When prepping your pan, butter JUST the sides of the pan, not the bottom. The butter/sugar syrup won’t spread out properly, which means, you’ll have pockets with syrup and pockets without.

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

Orange almond upside down cake

4 cara cara oranges, 4 clementines, and a pint of kumquats
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp finely ground corn meal or polenta
2 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp orange zest 
½ tsp almond extract

For the syrup:
2 tsp butter
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter ONLY the sides of a 9-inch baking pan and set aside. *See notes above

Peel the oranges and clementines, removing the outer pith. Slice the oranges into 1/8-inch thick slices (you should get about 7 slices per medium orange) and remove the seeds. Set aside.

Slice the kumquats and set aside. (No need to peel these, but I do remove the seeds for ease of slicing. When you hit a seed, just pop it out with your knife or give the slice a gentle squeeze and the seeds will pop out.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, brown sugar, and eggs.

Stir in the corn meal, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the orange zest and almond extract and stir again to combine. Set aside.

To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and water. Heat over a medium low flame and stir frequently, just until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce thickens slightly, about 3-4 minutes.

Pour the hot syrup into your prepared baking pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the orange, clementine, and kumquat slices in any pattern you like, nestling them into the syrup. It’s okay if there are some open spots.

Top with the cake batter and smooth out gently so you don’t move the citrus.

Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the sides of the cake. Place your cake plate upside down over the cake and, using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands, carefully invert the cake and place the cake stand right side up. Carefully lift off the baking pan, being careful of any steam that might escape.

Yield: 8-12 slice

Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake
Orange and almond upside down cake | Me & the Moose. Cara cara oranges, clementines, and kumquats baked in a light syrup really shine in this simple, lightly sweet, and naturally gluten-free upside down cake. #meandthemoose #citruscake #citrusrecipes #healthybaking #oranges #almonds #glutenfreerecipes #glutenfree #upsidedowncake

Cardamom and coffee blondies

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Growing up, we made chocolate chip cookies a lot and there was always a cookie that wound up with, like, one chocolate chip…and I secretly preferred those. I know, right? BIZARRE. But I still have a soft spot for chocolate-less desserts.

I ALSO have a soft spot for anything with cardamom. We used to visit a chainlet of restaurants in NYC that served cardamom coffee and it felt like such a unique indulgence. The cardamom and the strong coffee paired perfectly with a bit of sugar.

Anyway, these blondies bring me right back to that little cafe with a mini M eating dosas and drinking that brew.

As I mentioned last week, bar cookies are SO MUCH EASIER when cooking for a crowd and these beauties couldn’t be easier. They only require one bowl and the butter gets partially melted at the beginning. These guys are ready in about 40 minutes start to finish (and that’s if you go slooooowly.)

A couple of notes:

  • I used decaf espresso because the last thing my energetic toddler needs is caffeine. OMG. If you don’t have those concerns, feel free to use regular espresso. If you don’t have an espresso maker, strong coffee will do in a pinch, but I recommend heading to your local coffee place and ordering a double shot of espresso to bring home for this recipe.

  • If you prefer a more cake-like texture and subtler flavor, add a second egg to the batter. You end up with a lighty spicy and sweet cake with an airier crumb. Using a single egg yields a denser, more brownie-like consistency and much stronger flavor. M loved both.

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Cardamom and coffee blondies


12 Tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed and slightly domed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3 Tbsp brewed espresso (decaf or regular)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder (½ Tbsp) 
¾ tsp salt
1 scant tsp ground cardamom (measure out a teaspoon and then knock some out to avoid any bitterness)

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, melt the butter halfway so that it has some shape left, but is beginning to pool on the bottom (this usually takes about 45 seconds- 1 minute on high in our microwave).

Add the sugars, vanilla extract, egg, and espresso and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until no streaks or lumps remain.

Pour into a 9x9 baking pan that has either been greased with more butter or lined with parchment allowing an overhang so you can get the blondies out more easily.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until the blondies are set and springy in the middle.

Yield: 16 medium-sized pieces.

Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes
Coffee and cardamom blondies | Me & The Moose. These bar cookies are spiced, sweet, and dense, require one bowl, and are great for a crowd. #meandthemoose #blondies #coffee #cardamom #batchbaking #Christmasbaking #uniquedesserts #easydessertrecipes

Cranberry bars

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

Cranberry bars! Have you guys seen To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix? It’s a DELIGHT and I’ve watched it like 6 times. How does this relate to holiday desserts, you may ask? Well, there’s a part in the movie where one character pretends that making cupcakes for a school bake sale is her top priority and two other characters point out that the easiest way to bake for groups is to make something that can be cut into pieces. This is good advice!

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So this year, we’re only making bars that can be baked in one go and cut into pieces. You’re welcome.

But one place where bars fall short is in their appearance. I love a brownie or blondie (recipe coming at you next week, actually), but they’re not the most attractive dessert. Instead, make these simple cranberry bars and you have a holiday showstopper without much fuss.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking
Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

These bars have the same sweet/tart profile of a lemon bar, but in a more festive color. I’ve also simplified the recipe so that you can reuse the same kitchen tools for the crust and the filling. And unlike most cranberry curd or bar recipes, I recommend not straining the cranberries after they’re pureed. It doesn’t make enough difference to justify the extra time, effort, and dishes.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

A couple of notes:

  • I fiddled with the amounts of sugar in the filling because I like the bars a little bit tarter and Ethan likes them a little sweeter. If you like tart, use 3/4 cup. If you like sweet, add the remaining 2 Tbsp.

  • I listed a huge range in the cook time for the tart because it has cooked at wildly varying speeds for me. When I pour the filling directly into the hot shell, it cooked faster, but when my timing was off and I left the crust out to cool while I made the filling, it was a little slower. Also, when I used super fresh cranberries, there was more liquid in the filling and it took longer. Anyway, you get it. Check the tart at about 15 minutes knowing that there is a chance it will take much longer.

Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking

Cranberry bars

Shortbread base
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
10 Tbsp cold butter (1 stick + 2 Tbsp), cut into ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
Heaping ¼ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x9 tart pan or a 10x10 brownie pan. Set aside.

Combine all of the shortbread ingredients in a food processor and pulse 15-20 times until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

Dump the mixture into your tart pan or brownie pan. If using a tart pan, start by pressing the mixture into a medium-thin layer up the sides of the pan. Then press the remaining shortbread mixture into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. If using a brownie pan, just press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan and don’t worry about the sides.

Bake in the middle of the oven until blondish-brown, about 17-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep your filling.

 

Filling
10 oz of fresh cranberries (a scant 3 cups; save the rest of the berries for decoration)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup sugar + 2 Tbsp
3 Tbsp flour
3 large eggs  

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Heat over a medium flame until bubbling and the cranberries can be squished with a spatula without any give, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Wipe out your food processor and puree the cranberries until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Add the sugar and flour and puree for another few seconds until combined and the mixture looks like liquid.

Add the eggs and puree again until combined, about 10 seconds.

Turn the oven temperature down to 300.

Remove the tart shell from the oven (if you haven’t already) and fill with the cranberry mixture until right at the top of the tart. You may have some filling left over.

Bake for 18-34 minutes, until there is no wobble left in the middle when the tart is shaken and the filling feels firm, but springy when lightly touched.

Let cool completely before decorating.


Decoration

2 oz cranberries (whatever is left in the bag)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a small sauce pan, combine 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and heat over a medium low flame. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Don’t let the sugar water get too hot; you’re just trying to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Add the cranberries and cover well with syrup. Remove from the syrup with a fork or slotted spoon to remove most of the liquid. Add to a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Roll the berries around to cover with sugar and remove to a plate. Let harden for 20-30 minutes.

When bars are cool, cover with powdered sugar. Add the cranberries in whatever pattern you like.


Yield: 16 medium squares or slices


Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking
Cranberry bars | Me & The Moose. These simple cranberry bars are a showstopper that looks complicated, but is actually easy to bake ahead and cut up for cookie swaps, office holiday parties, and your cookie tray. #cranberrybars #christmasbaking #lemonbars #meandthemoose #holidaydesserts #batchbaking