It feels like Christmas morning when I received a shipment of newly published cookbooks which were pre-ordered months ago. It was so long ago that I didn’t even remember placing those orders. Among the big box of surprise included gems such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Lara Ferroni’s Real Snacks, Liz Gutman and Jen King’s The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s Baked Elements, and Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I cannot begin to describe the excitement of flipping through the pages and making mental notes of all the enticing recipes calling my name. I predict with certainty that my winter will be filled with tasty home cooked meals and sweets when I am surrounded by such great company.
Last night I was glued to the television, unable to tear myself away from the changing numbers of electoral votes. Shortly after 11pm, when all the major networks announced the winner of the US Presidential Election, I finally left my couch and stepped into the kitchen. I wanted an easy recipe to keep my hands occupied while waiting for the concession and victory speeches. The answer was Smitten Kitchen’s Cranberry Crumb Bar with Mulling Spices.
Perelman promised this would be a no-fuss recipe. A crumbly spiced short crust pastry forms the base and the topping for these bar cookies. Between the two layers of buttery cookie is a filing of sweet tart cranberry compote. I only made half of the recipe and baked in my favourite 7-inch square cake pan. To further simplify the recipe, I did away with cutting butter into the flour mixture by hand. I made both the pastry and the filling in a food processor. It truly fulfills its promise of being fuss free.
I was initially a little concern over the dry crumbly dough. However, since I had the convenience of using a two-piece baking pan, compacting the bottom layer was not an issue at all. Even the loose topping stayed well-behaved when I cut the baked cookies into pieces. There barely was any stray crumbs. I half expected the cranberry filling to bubble while baking in the oven but that never happened. The moisture level of the filling was totally spot on. The filling tasted juicy but the cookie remained crunchy and crumbly.
I love this wintery riff on the original Blueberry Crumb Bar. The hint of mulling spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice added a touch of holiday festivity to this simple treat. The cheery red colour of cranberry is also as eye catching as can be. I’m sure I’ll be making this recipe over and over again!
If you want to find out more about The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, here is a list of recipes available online.