Lemon Cranberry Bars
These cranberry lemon layered bars are perfect for any occasion. A smooth sheet of tart lemon sits on top of a layer of sweet cranberries with a bed of crumbly crust. These treats melt in the mouth and stay fresh for days.
For the cranberry layer:
- 1 (12-ounce/340-gram) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
- ¾ cup/150 grams granulated sugar
- 2 to 3 large lemons
For the crust:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup/65 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
For the lemon layer:
- 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
- ¼ cup/30 grams all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Step One: Start preparing the cranberry layer: Combine the cranberries, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Zest 2 of the lemons directly into the saucepan; reserve the lemons. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture is jammy, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Step Two: Make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with one large sheet of heavy aluminum foil, making sure there are no gaps or holes, then generously coat with cooking spray.
Step Three: Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the vanilla into the butter, then pour over the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in a mass. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges and dry and golden on top, 17 to 20 minutes.
Step Four: While the crust bakes, begin preparing the lemon layer: Squeeze the juice from the 2 reserved zested lemons. You should have 1/2 cup. Squeeze the juice from another lemon, if needed.
Step Five: Whisk the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and whisk gently just until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and stir gently with the whisk just until smooth.
Step Six: Let the crust cool for 5 minutes, then spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Carefully and slowly pour the lemon mixture on top to create two distinct layers.
Step Seven: Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Using the foil, slide the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares, wiping your knife between cuts for clean slices. If desired, sift confectioners’ sugar over the tops just before serving.
Yield: 2 dozen bars
Time: 1 hour, plus chilling
Recipe courtesy of The New York Times