This Thanksgiving was my first away from home in the big mitten. Several families from church invited us over to their homes; it was nice to know we weren’t going to be orphans this Thanksgiving. We went to a home that has a holiday tradition of unseemly amounts dungeness crab and lobster, because ’tis the season. I’ve never eaten so much and such delicious shellfish in my life. One huge dungeness crab per person plus lobsters. I used to think the only reason I enjoyed crab and lobster was because I loved butter. Like bagels (only ones that are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside) are a medium for cream cheese, claw chunks and leg meat are a salty vehicle for liquid gold — clarified butter. But, I don’t think I’ve ever had really good lobster or dungeness crab. And, now I have. I made a couple vegetable sides because I recently acquired porchetta fat from my my new local butcher, Avedano’s Meats. I made crispy roasted potatoes with rosemary and truffle salt. And, Brussels sprouts roasted in porchetta fat with crispy shallots, pancetta, and pomegranate seeds. I was in the mood to make a seasonal dessert, so I turned to my trusty friend Deb Perelman. This is a hard to mess-up buttery and tart sweet treat. I used Meyer lemons instead of oranges because it’s what I had at home.
Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices (from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, plus more at room temperature for the pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and butter the sides and the parchment. In a large, widish bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. With a pastry blender or fork, work the chilled butter and the egg into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat half the crumb base into the bottom of your prepared pan; it will be thin.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, briefly pulse the filling ingredients until the berries are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Spread the filling over the crumb base. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the cranberry mixture.
Bake cookies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
And, our friend, who like me doesn’t care for baking, successfully executed a gorgeous and delicious Magic Chocolate Flan Cake. Perhaps next year I’ll bring some of these dishes back home to Michigan…