Cranberry Crumb Bars
These cranberry crumb bars are one of my favorite treats to whip up this time of year! I love anything that I can put cranberries in. They’re perfectly tart so they balance out any sweet treat. And that amazing bright color adds festive fun to any bake!
These bars are extremely easy to put together as well. They have an amazing rich shortbread on the bottom, cradling a layer of jammy sweet and tart cranberries, topped with more shortbread crumbles! I love finishing the cranberry bars with some orange or lemon glaze before slicing them into perfect little bars!
What is Brown Butter?
Any recipe that calls for butter is already probably amazing. But if you want to improve the richness and flavor of anything that calls for butter, make it brown butter! Very basically, brown butter is what you get when you slowly melt and cook butter until the milk solids separate, fall to the bottom of the pan, and become golden brown specks.
Brown butter is one of the simplest ways to add a robust punch of flavor into anything! The reason I love adding this step to these cranberry crumb bars is because you’re really able to taste it in the shortbread! Shortbread doesn’t take a lot of ingredients. Butter, sugar, and flour are pretty much all you need for shortbread. Of course I like to add a healthy dash of salt and some vanilla! But when it comes to bakes that only call for a few ingredients, you want to be using high quality ingredients because you’re going to be able to taste every thing! Nothing’s masked here, so the brown butter can really shine through!
What You’ll Need
Ingredients for Cranberry Crumb Bars
- Fresh cranberries
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Light or dark brown sugar
- Pure vanilla extract
- All purpose flour
- Baking soda
How to Make Cranberry Crumb Bars
- Make cranberry filling: Cook cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest in a medium saucepan until all the cranberries have burst and mixture has thickened. Let cool completely.
- Make Brown Butter: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring. Butter will get foamy, bubbly, and you’ll probably hear crackly sounds. Keep stirring– in a few minutes, the milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan and become golden brown in color. Immediately pour into a heat safe bowl to prevent burning. Let cool until no longer hot.
- Make the shortbread dough: Whisk cooled brown butter together with granulated and brown sugar. Add vanilla. Then add flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until a dough starts to form. It should clump together when squeezed.
- Assemble in pan and bake: Place all but 2/3 cup of the shortbread dough into a parchment lined 8×8 inch baking pan. Distribute it evenly and then smooth out and compact it. Stir the cooled cranberry filling up and then scrape it all on top of the dough, spreading it out evenly all the way to the edges. Top with remaining crumbs and bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes, when the cranberry mixture is bubbling and top crumbs have turned a bit golden. Remove from oven, let cool completely and top with optional glaze.
With a brown butter shortbread base, a jammy tart and sweet cranberry filling, and more brown butter crumble on top, these cranberry crumb bars are my favorite thing to whip up this season!
- 12 oz fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- juice and zest from one medium orange
Brown Butter Shortbread
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 227g) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) light or dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (256g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Orange or lemon glaze (optional)
- 1/3 cup (45g) powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons orange or lemon juice
Make Cranberry Filling
- Add all filling ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until all cranberries have split or burst. Keep cooking on low heat until mixture has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and scrape into a shallow bowl to cool completely. (This can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the fridge.)
Prepare Brown Butter Shortbread Dough
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make brown butter: add the butter to a small or medium saucepan over medium low heat, stirring with a silicone spatula a bit to evenly melt all butter. Continuing sitrring and cooking, (DON'T WALK AWAY). Butter will become a bit bubbly and very foamy. Keep stirring! After a few more minutes, the milk solids that have dropped to the bottom will start browning and the whole thing will smell aromatic and nutty. Immediately pour the browned butter into a heat safe bowl, scraping along all the browned bits too (they're the best part!). Let butter cool until it's no longer hot before moving on.
- In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugars, and vanilla until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk until combined. When you squeeze the dough in your hands, it should clump together.
Assemble and bake
- Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Saving about 2/3 cup of the dough for the topping, place the rest into the baking pan and spread it out evenly. With an offset spatula or the bottom of a small measuring cup, smooth and compact the dough evenly.
- Stir up the completely cooled cranberry mixture and pour over the dough, spreading it out evenly. Top with clumps of the remaining dough.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top has browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and orange or lemon juice until glaze is smooth and pourable. Drizzle with a spoon over the cooled bars. Cut into 9 even bars and enjoy!