Wednesday, December 3, 2008

12 Days of Cookies - A Gourmet cookie extravaganza

This wonderful event is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes. How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity. There are 7 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies - A Gourmet cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the next 12 days of December.

These cookies are coming from Gourmet's Favorite Cookie Recipes: 1941-2008.
They’ve published a lot of cookie recipes in their 68-year history, many of them around the winter holidays. This season they decided to choose the very best from each year.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Jerry - the seat of my Pants
Sandy -At the Baker's Bench
Courtney - Coco Cooks
Kelly - Sass & Veracity
Claire - The Barefoot Kitchen
Andrea - Andreas Recipes

Day 3 of The 12 Days of Cookies features Cranberry Turtle Bars!

This recipe falls into the category of “cult favorite;” it has steadily gained a passionate following since it was originally published. Layers of fresh cranberries suspended in a candied-pecan topping sit on a buttery crust and, as if that weren’t enough, the whole is streaked with melted chocolate. It’s an unexpected—and unexpectedly delicious—combination. Gourmet.

Cranberry Turtle Bars - November 2001 (link to the recipe as it was originally printed)

For base

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For topping

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed; 6 3/4 oz), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups pecans (12 oz), toasted and cooled, then coarsely chopped

For decoration

  • 2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), very finely chopped
  • Special equipment:

    a candy thermometer

Make base:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the 2 short sides. Butter all 4 sides (but not bottom).
  • Blend flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor, then add butter and pulse until mixture begins to form small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Sprinkle into baking pan, then press down firmly all over with a metal spatula to form an even layer. Bake in middle of oven until golden and firm to the touch, 15 to 17 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack.

Make topping:

  • Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel registers 245°F on thermometer, about 8 minutes. Carefully stir in cranberries, then boil until caramel returns to 245°F. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, then stir in pecans until well coated. Working quickly, spread caramel topping over base, using a fork to distribute nuts and berries evenly. Cool completely.

Cut and decorate bars:

  • Lift bars in foil from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 6 crosswise strips, then 6 lengthwise strips to form 36 bars.
  • Melt half of chocolate in top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Transfer chocolate to a small heavy-duty sealable plastic bag. Seal bag and snip off a tiny piece of 1 corner to form a small hole, then pipe chocolate decoratively over bars. Let stand at room temperature until chocolate sets, about 1 hour.
Cooks’ note: Bars keep in an airtight container (use wax paper between layers) 1 week.

Don't they look nice and festive? Pecans, cranberries and chocolate!

I love these bars. I love the tartness of the fresh cranberries mixed with the pecans. Just a wonderful flavor explosion. They also look so festive and seasonal.

Will I make these again? Oh yes without a doubt and I don't think I would change a thing! They are both tasty and pretty! These ones are being frozen and given as Christmas gifts!


Sweet Treats by Dani said...

OMG these look soooo tasty!! Can't wait to try them :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

These are perfect for the holiday season Judy with their festive coat:D

Andrea Meyers said...

Ooo, these do look pretty! I still have a bag of cranberries in the frig, and like your idea of giving them as gifts.

Jo said...

Such yummy looking bars and the colours look so festive. Also timely for Christmas.

Elle said...

Those look great! Such a different twist!

Peter M said...

Judy, you know these are going quick...for brekkie, snack, pack in kids' lunch, with coffee...poof - they're gone!

glamah16 said...

These look to die for. I could alos see it as my tasty breakfast cookie this morning.

Anonymous said...

Those look fantastic! I've looked at that Gourmet cookie article several times now, and there are so many I haven't been able to make up my mind. I think this might help ;-)

Megan said...

I love the color of these. They sure would dress up a cookie platter!

Sandy Smith said...

These look incredible! I love the idea of using cranberries to temper the sweetness a bit. YUM! They look picture-perfect. :)

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Hey Dani-Let me know how you like them!

Hi Val-I like that, "coat"!

Hi Andrea-Double the batch and make 2 trays at once. Itis so worth it! These were the best!

Hi Jo-They were very yummy bars!

Hey Elle-The fresh cranberry was a great twist!

Hey Peter- You know it. Next time I make these it will be a double batch. 2 for me, 1 for my firend!

Hey Ben-They are perfect but yes I am almost cookied out!

Hey Courtney-I would have gladly shared one with you!

Hey April-These are a definite winner!

Hey Megan-The color was terrific!

Hi Sandy-it is such a great combo!

Anonymous said...

delicious! I love your 12 days of cookies blogs!

5 Star Foodie

Lys said...

Those cookies look fabulous. I adore anything cranberry so this looks like it would be amazing!

Anonymous said...

cranberry turtle bars?! i never would have though up a recipe like this but it sounds (and looks!) absolutely amazing! YUM-what great flavors!

Jen said...

These, on the other hand, look completely incredible ( I got to the mocha cookies first)

Thistlemoon said...

Yum! Those look great!

test it comm said...

These sound amazing! I like the use of the fresh cranberries!

Anonymous said...

So pretty & festive! What a great gift idea :)

guipipia said...

I always give every family in my family a little box with coockies, usually a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips chookies, and white chocolate and oatmeal cookies, but I'm definetly gonna try these this year, and I saw the recipe in time to try them out before having to make 2 dozens of them all at once!
By the way, did you see the Holiday Cook, Bake and Sew along going on on A Shouthern Fairy Tale and a couple other blogs? It's got great ideas for homemade Christmas presents!