Cranberry Pecan Salted Caramel Bars

I had found this recipe in the LCBO’s ‘Holiday Food and Drink’ magazine a while ago; bookmarking it. I made a point to try a few other recipes from the book but, it went into a cupboard and I completely forgot about these squares. Which is really too bad, as I have probably every book from the past few years and never think to look inside….until an emergency strikes!

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My parents were going to a party and I said I’d make a dessert tray, I already had a stockpile already right? Well they failed to mention it was possible there would be 30-40 people at this party. My handful of shortbread and salvaged butter tarts  were looking a liiiiittle lonely. I didn’t want to mess with dough that required baking, chilling, rolling, icing….so squares were the answer of course! Then I remembered the cranberry pistachio caramel squares (cue cheesy harp chord, fade into my first glimpse at magazine)

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Yes they were pistachio, but even if I did have them (which I didn’t) I was not planning on shelling and toasting a cup’s worth of green nuts. I’d bend a little for pecans. I also was a tad sick of loading EVERYTHING with butter, (these ironically aren’t really an exception) but I thought I’d at least swap out the white flour for rolled oats. As it turns out, the pecans and cranberries are drowned in caramel sauce, but you do what you can. Looking at this pile o’ cookies, I think I definitely did what I could. Sorry you weren’t invited to the party, but don’t feel too bad; neither was I.

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Cranberry Pecan Salted Caramel Bars

Adapted from LCBO Food + Drink Holiday 2012

Cookie Base

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cups toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt

Cookie base

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line 9×13” (23x33cm) pan with parchment

3. In skillet, toast wheat germ on medium heat until fragrant and toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolk. Stir in flour and wheat germ

5. With damp fingers, press dough into lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until dry to touch and golden. Remove and set aside.

Topping **

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons rooibos tea leaves
2 tablespoons corn syrup or Lyle’s
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, plumped in boiling water + tea for 10 min, drain well

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

Topping

1. Boil water. Put cranberries in small bowl. Pour water and tea over top, let sit. After 10 minutes, drain and set aside

2. Combine sugar, water + corn syrup in heavy bottom pot + stir just enough to moisten sugar. Place over medium heat, bring to simmer and cook without stirring for 10 minutes or until deep golden colour (159-170 degrees celcius on a candy thermometer)

3. Remove from heat, using  long whisk, add whipping cream and butter, stir until fully combined. Let cool slightly. Add chopped nuts and cranberries.

4. Pour caramel mixture overtop cooled cookie base. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until caramel is bubbling. Sprinkle maldon salt over top.  Let cool at least 2 hours before cutting.

**I didn’t actually use the filling from the recipe as I had leftover butter tart filling and condensed milk; combining them. I’m sure the real recipe is delicious.

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