Cranberry Turtle Bars

I bookmarked this dessert months ago, eagerly waiting the holiday season with ample desserts and cranberry availability.  Many had doubts about this dessert- a cranberry caramel like dessert?  They were not interested, but I didn’t care.  I was making this dessert, even if no one else ate these and I had to pilfer the extras on the street.  I was also excited to work with a candy thermometer again and make a caramel like sauce for the first time.  This dessert was happening whether people ate it or not.
Well, the naysayers were proven wrong- these bars were as good as I thought they would be.  They ate both their words and these bars.  The recipe takes a little time, mostly just waiting for parts to cool and to reach certain temperatures.  But it is worth it.  The shortbread crust is sweet and delicate, and the cranberry topping is chewy and sweet with a great crunch from pecans.  The white chocolate topping (which was added after I took my picture) adds another layer of sweetness on top of it all.  These are definitely a delicious, unique dessert and perfect for this holiday season.  Don’t let any naysayers dissuade you from making these!
Slightly Adapted from The Curvy Carrot
Originally Gourmet November 2001

For the Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter

For Cranberry Topping:
1 cup butter
1 2/3 granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups pecans, chopped

For Topping:
Shaved or melted white chocolate (about 2 ounces)


For the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 10 x 15 baking pan with foil.  Grease the sides of the pan.  Do not grease the bottom.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch size pieces.  Using a pastry cutter (or food processor), cut in the butter until a dough of pea sized pieces formed.  Pour dough into baking pan.  Press dough into bottom of the pan, being careful not to overwork. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Set aside and cool completely.

For the Cranberry Topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Spread pecans over a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned, watching carefully.  Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 245°F.  Stir in cranberries.  Be careful if the caramel seizes, just keep stirring!  Bring to a boil again and cook until the temperature reaches 245°F again.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract and pecans.  Quickly spoon mixture over cooled crust.  Spread evenly.  Let cool completely.

For Topping:
Shave or melt white chocolate.  Sprinkle shavings or drizzled melted white chocolate over top.  Let cool completely.  Remove bars from baking dish and cut.  Store in refrigerator.

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