Most weeks, I’m kinda happy when the weekend comes. Today, though, I’m thrilled. Delighted. Ebullient. Mentally, my patience at work was shot by Wednesday morning. Thursday morning, I found myself wanting to turn the hacksaw being used on the floor directly under my desk on the construction group using it. Physically, I found myself alternating between significant knee pain and debilitating nausea. (Hint: if you repeatedly question the dose of Aleve your PCP recommends during a 15 minute appointment, there’s probably a good reason.) Last night, I broke down and made myself some comfort food, inspired by the Gluten-Free Bar Cookie Challenge.
As I had a bag of cranberries in the freezer from last fall, I decided to make a cranberry bar filling. Cranberries are a bit of a “superfood.” It’s well known that they help prevent urinary tract infections, but their benefits are much broader than that. They are relatively low in calories, high in flavinoids, and a good source of vital nutrients like vitamin C. Commercial cranberry concoctions tend to be oversweetened, so making your own carnberry dishes can help reduce the sugar. Enjoy their sour/bitter flavor! (Or mix them with naturally sweet foods, like dried apricots ;-)).
For my crust and topping, I used a variation of this*, but I would not call the crust or topping a success. The filling, however, was delicious and I’d happily eat it off a spoon. Unfortunately, I need more cranberries before I can make it again. Try using the filling in your favorite thumbprint cookies, baked on top of a sweet pastry crust, or sandwiched between thin sugar or ginger cookies. Crushed ginger cookies could also work particularly well for a base. Top it with toasted almonds slices if you are making bars.
Cranberry Bar or Cookie Filling
1 1/2 c frozen or fresh cranberries
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t cloves
1/2 c chopped dried apricots
1/2 c water
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 T sweet rice flour (or use 1 t corn or potato starch)
2 T cold water
1/2 c dark chocolate chips
Cook cranberries, 1/2 c water, spices, brown sugar, and apricots together until the cranberries pop (about 10 minutes). Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, stir the sweet rice flour and cold water together. Mix into the cranberries after they have popped. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until it has thickened. Cool, add chocolate chips, and use as desired.
*Someday I’ll learn to not play with vegan bakery and actually follow the recipe as WRITTEN. It never works. My sense of what works fails me when you remove the egg.