Friday, October 18, 2013

Cranberry Maple Blondies + Cranberry Cupcake Bars

Dear Baking World,

I work at the bakery in the Union South. The other day I made cranberry walnut bars with cream cheese frosting and since then the only thing on my mind is cranberry. It's driving me nuts. (That's funny because there's walnuts in the bars...)

I digress. Cranberries are (thankfully) a fall food and therefore an excuse to make lots of cranberry things. A quick tangent after my first tangent: cranberries are one of the few major fruits native to North America, which makes them even more festive as we approach Thanksgiving. On top of that Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producer in the nation, which makes the appropriateness of overdoing it on cranberries even more appropriate.  

I stopped by Madison's only grocery store in the middle of campus where they have a monopoly on grocery items and apparently cranberries as well, which cost almost $5 a bag. The only cranberries available were organic so not only was I throwing money around like it was nobody's business but I was simultaneously bettering the world. 

Ah cranberries. It was all worth it when these two recipes came to fruition. I decided to forgo any nuts involved in these two recipes, simply because nuts are also expensive and I wanted cranberries, not nuts. 

Another fall thing I can't get off my mind: maple. I love maple syrup. Pour me a shot of maple syrup and it will go down the hatch like there's no tomorrow. And what kind of combo would cranberries and maple syrup be?! It would be cosmic, that's for sure. 

The first recipe is an adapated recipe where I substituted pecans for cranberries. The second recipe is the Union South cranberry nut bar recipe, except I omitted the nuts and baked them in a cupcake pan. I also put on frosting (which they do) but mine was maple buttercream (nom.)

All I can say is, if you're hankering something sweet these desserts will fulfill that desire and then some. They're so sweet but so delicious. The blondies were delicious when warm. I honestly couldn't even handle how delicious they were. The bars in cupcake form were also delicious. I was a little disappointed at how overpowering the heath was, but when you got a bite of cranberry, it was pure joy. Oh my goodness. Enjoy.

Cranberry Heath Cupcake Bars with Buttercream Frosting

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups cranberries, frozen

1/2 cup heath

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
dash of milk
maple syrup to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and melted butter, blend well. Add cranberries and heath, mixing gently until just combined. Place an equal amount of batter in each liner.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. 

Frosting: cream butter. Add in powdered sugar until to desired thickness. Add dash of milk, or until to desired thickness. 

Maple Cranberry Blondies

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cranberries (frozen)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
8 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (I used what I had, which was grade A)
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk (recipe calls for heavy cream but I put in almond milk and it tasted fine.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan.

In a large bowl, mix flour, cranberries, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, mix the melted butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. Add wet and dry ingredients together. Mixture should be like brownie batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

While the blondies are baking, make the topping. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in maple syrup and light brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Place on blondies when they're still warm.

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