Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lemons and Anchovies: Grapefruit Cranberry Bars with a Chocolate Shortbread Crust

I'm going to commit sacrilege.  Ready?  I get tired of pumpkin pie.  Yes, I admit it.  After about the fifth slice, I'm wishing there was something else sweet to eat.  ANYTHING.  I can only take so much pumpkin before I go on strike.  So this year I strategically planned a different dessert to bring.  And I kept it secret from the pumpkin pie-loving hordes.  I didn't stray too far from the theme though.  It has cranberries.

After all of that buildup, and the beauty of the finished product, I have to admit I'm not overly fond of this recipe.  Which was kind of a let-down.  I mean, it's not a flop by any means.  It turns out and tastes good.  But it's missing something.  Maybe too much sugar in the cranberries kills the tartness.  And the crust needs...something.  I've got ten other things to make, or I'd try to figure it out.  But if you want something different and don't want to shock anyone's sensibilities, it's certainly a good choice.  And it got me away from pumpkin pie for a brief moment, which is always appreciated.

Grapefruit Cranberry Bars with a Chocolate Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Lemons and Anchovies blog and Bon Appetit magazine, November 2012

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or other alcohol...cognac? brandy?)
1 tablespoon butter

2 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter an 8-inch square pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the top of the paper.  Set aside

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, almonds, and salt.  Pulse until the mixture is well combined and the almonds are ground.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles pea-size pebbles.  Add the cream and pulse until the dough just starts to come together.

Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  The dough may puff slightly, but it can be pressed back down with a spoon when it is removed from the oven.  Alternately, pie weights can be used to keep the dough smooth during blind baking.

Combine the sugar, grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, Grand Marnier, and cranberries in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high and cook until the cranberries have popped, about 6 minutes.  Add the butter and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture thickens.

Pour the cranberry mixture into the prepared baked crust and smooth the top.  Raise the oven temperature to 400°F and bake the bars for 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and fill a ziploc baggie with the chocolate.  Snip a small corner off the bag and, sweeping back and forth, pipe lines of chocolate over the cranberries.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

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