Cranberry-Pistachio Bars

Back to cookie making.  These bars are quite festive looking, especially for the holidays, because of the bright red cranberries and the green-tinted pistachios (but they don’t photograph well).  They are a bit surprising to taste, because they are both tart and sweet.  The original recipe came from Eating Well magazine.

Cranberry-Pistachio Bars

The Crust
3 Tablespoons unsalted  butter at room temperature
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

The Topping
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind
¼ cup orange juice
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, preferably unsalted, chopped and toasted

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Coat an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.  Beat butter, granulated and brown sugars in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, and salt until well combined.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Evenly press this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake until just barely golden around the edges, 10-12 minutes.  Remove crust from oven. You do not have to let it cool before putting the topping on.

To make the topping
: Chop cranberries coarsely by pulsing them in a food processor. Combine ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg, egg white, orange zest and juice. Stir until blended and smooth.  Sprinkle chopped cranberries over the baked crust.  Pour the orange mixture over the cranberries and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

Bake until golden and set, 40-45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  This is easier to cut if you chill it before you try to cut it.  The recipe says that this makes 16 cookies, at 4 grams of fat/cookie.  But I found the cookies to be very large, especially for a cookie plate, so I cut them in half – and then they made 32 cookies at 2 grams/cookie.


A note on pistachio nuts: If you can get unsalted nuts, use them.  There is a lovely brand called “Everybody’s Nuts” that has unsalted nuts that are easy to open.  But my local stores seem to longer carry them, and I was in too much of a hurry to order them online.  I used salted nuts and rinsed them to get the salt off, but it really wasn’t as satisfactory as unsalted nuts would have been.

Hint: Specialty flours and grains that are sometimes called for in recipes (like the whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe) can become rancid if they are kept too long. The same is true of nuts.  If you need ¼ cup of wheat bran, or 2 tablespoons of pecans, what do you do with the rest?   You seal the in a zip top plastic bag, and put them in the freezer!  They will keep for months, and you really don’t have to defrost them to use them.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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