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Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust Recipe


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     Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust

Category   Desserts - Breads
Sub Category   None

1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner sugar, tapped lightly down and leveled off
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon pieces
12 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1/2 of a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon pieces
Powdered sugar for dusting

Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment, as described in this tutorial. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and coarsely grind, about 15 one-second pulses. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse until finely ground, about 10 additional one-second pulses. Sprinkle the chunks of butter over the top of the flour-nut mix and pulse until the mixture holds together when compressed in your palm, another 20-25 one-second pulses. Press the crust mix into the baking dish, making it as even as possible. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Remove the crust from the freezer and bake for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to color around the edges. While the crust is baking, prepare the cranberry curd.
Place the cranberries and water in a medium-sized sauce pot over medium-high heat and stir. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until all the cranberries have popped and become mushy, about 5 minutes. Pour them into a fine-meshed strainer set over a medium-sized mixing bowl and press the cranberry puree through using a spatula. Allow the puree to cool to room temperature. Discard the cranberry skins and clean the strainer for use in the next step. To the bowl with the cranberry puree, add the sugar, eggs and yolks, lemon juice and salt (reserving the butter for now). Stir thoroughly until the mixture is even. Return the cranberry mixture to the saucepan and set the burner to medium. Stir the curd continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. Cook until the curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon, and registers about 150 on an instant-read thermometer. This should take 10-12 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter all at once. Stir until the butter has completely melted, then pour the curd through the strainer into a clean bowl. Pour the warm cranberry curd onto the walnut crust. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until the curd has set but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool completely and refrigerate before cutting. To cut the squares, lift them from the pan using the parchment paper as handles. Trim off the sides to make even edges if desired. Dust the tops of the bars with powdered sugar just before serving and use a sharp knife to cut them into squares. The powdered sugar will melt into the cranberry curd, making sweet glaze. Keep refrigerated.
Substitute for Fresh Cranberries - Substitute 3/4 cup cranberry juice and 1/4 cup lemon juice for cranberry puree if fresh cranberries can't be found. Watch the bars carefully while baking, and extend the baking time as needed until the bars are set around the edges but still jiggly in the center. To Prepare Crust Without a Food Processor - Chop the nuts as finely as possible with a chef's knife. Combine with the dry ingredients and the cut or rub in the butter, as you would for a pie crust, until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Press into the pan and bake as directed. To Make the Cranberry Curd Less Sweet - As it is, this curd is definitely on the sweet side of tart, but still tastes distinctly cranberry. If you really love the super tart taste of cranberries and would prefer the curd to be less sweet, try reducing the sugar in the curd recipe to as little as 1/2 cup.

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