Cranberries are so tart in their untouched state that we’re always adding things to sweeten them up. Dried cranberries, however, have already been sweetened so much in the processing that we have to be careful not to add much sweet stuff to any dish we’re making with them. (Though, to be fair to the food companies, I have noticed reduced-sugar dried cranberries in the stores lately.)
With that in mind, I started in on something like my apple oatmeal cookies from a couple months back, but carefully going easy on the sugar. I also used more oatmeal in proportion to the butter this time, knowing the dried cranberries weren’t going to blend into the mixture anything like the grated apple from last time.
I also looked back to my coconut shortbread, remembering that no-shape, no-drop, pat-in-the-pan dough that you cut into bars at your leisure can be a lot less work than regular cookies, and went that way with this recipe too.
What I ended up with was a crispy, somewhat crumbly, not too sweet oat bar with little bursts of sweet-tart flavor. My taster remarked that it was less of a dessert item and more of a snack, and I think that’s true — like biscotti, it’s all the better when accompanied by a cup of coffee, and it’s not so sweet it’ll make the coffee taste too bitter.
If you’d like a sweeter dried cranberry cookie, check out this recipe from Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek. It uses other good things like nuts and white chocolate chips — both go well with cranberries. (In fact, if you’re in a really big hurry sometime, just spread some peanut butter on plain old crackers and sprinkle on a few dried cranberries and chocolate chips, either regular or white. This spread is also good on bananas.)
Of course, fresh cranberries are not interchangeable with dried, but they’re also usable in baking. The process cuts down the tartness somewhat. But they should be chopped fairly small before you mix them into anything, and you should let the dish cool completely after it’s done.
- 1 ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cup quick oatmeal
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Cream the butter with an electric mixer.
- Mix in the sugar and oats till you have a smooth dough.
- Stir in the cranberries, making sure they don’t stick together.
- Spread in a greased 8 x 8 square pan.
- Bake at 350℉ for 15-20 minutes.
- Cool and cut into bars.