cranberry lemon bars

2 dozen bars    |   
Prep Time:
30 minutes plus chilling    |   
Cook Time:
30 minutes

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cranberry lemon bars

The picture tells the story, but that stripe of tart cranberry between the sweet lemon filling and the buttery crust of these bars qualifies it as the best of the best of the best of 2020. Let me be clear: the credit for this recipe goes to its author, Genevieve Ko. Another best thing about this year has been giving credit where credit is due in the cooking world. To honor that, I’m linking you to the original source and if you encounter a pay wall, subscribe! Cooks and writers need to be paid for their work. This recipe has been adapted from the New York Times.

1 bag (12-oz) fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 large lemons
Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
confectioner’s sugar
Prepare 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 heat and reserve.
Make the crust: Heat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 7-by-11-inch baking pan* with one large sheet of aluminum foil, making sure there are no gaps or holes, then generously coat with cooking spray or vegetable oil. 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, about 20 minutes.
Start the lemon layer: while the crust bakes, squeeze the juice from the 2 reserved lemons. You should have ½ cup. Squeeze the juice from another lemon, if needed.
When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile finish the lemon layer: 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. Spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Slowly pour the lemon mixture on top to create two distinct layers. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set when you jiggle the pan slightly, 25 to 28 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Using the foil, lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares, wiping your knife with warm water between cuts for clean slices. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the tops right before serving. The bars keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
*note: the original recipe calls for a 9×13-inch pan, but I found it fit better in a 7×11-inch pan and other people commented on this, too. If all you have is 9×13, use it. Bake for slightly less time in the final baking.