Cranberry Crunch 70's Remix Bars
For years I’ve had this small, green, metal recipe box in my cabinet. It was my mothers. She collected recipes from her mother, her mothers friends, her friends, neighbors, etc and hand wrote them all out on individual recipe cards. She had beautiful handwriting and the cards themselves are vintage visual treat.
I’m not even sure how long I’ve had my mothers recipe box but, for whatever reason, I decided to pop it open the other week and see what treasure it might hold. Let me tell you, some of the recipes are pretty eyebrow-raising. I’m guessing a lot of these are from the 60’s and 70’s given the prevalence of canned items, mayonnaise and flavored gelatin use, as well as the strange habit of naming dishes that are CLEARLY NOT salad, salad.
Now, not all of the recipes are as stomach-churning as the list above might suggest. Some even look like they’d be really, really good! So I’ve given myself a challenge :-) I’m planning to update (as well as convert to vegan) as many of these recipes as reasonably possible! I’m not going all “Julie and Julia” with this, but I do plan to work my way through these at a good pace. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the movie “Julie and Julia” you are missing out. Watch it. You won’t be disappointed!
For the first installment of this 70’s Conversion Challenge I’ve gone easy on myself ;-) The Cranberry Crunch recipe was pretty vegan already. I only needed to substitute vegan butter for the dairy butter. Easy peasy. But because I also want to update these recipes I also decided to add a couple of ingredients that weren’t called for in the original recipe—walnuts and dried cranberries. Oh, and a bit of salt. Whenever I’m using baking with sugar I always drop in a bit of salt. Check out this article for the science behind why this is done: https://www.organics.org/heres-why-we-put-salt-in-our-desserts-best-types-of-salt-to-use/
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup vegan butter (and a bit more to grease your pan)
one 14oz can (or fresh!) cranberry sauce (smooth or chunky works)
1/8 tsp salt
walnuts (roughly chopped) and dried cranberries, about 1/3 cup each
Mix the rolled oats, salt, and brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl. If you don’t have brown sugar (I didn’t) you can make your own with regular white sugar and molasses. For whatever reason I had molasses but not brown sugar… I’ve no idea why this is… Anyway, to make your own brown sugar mix together one cup of sugar with one Tbs molasses. I used the back of a soup spoon to really push the molasses through the sugar and get it thoroughly incorporated. I’m pretty impressed with how well this worked! My home made brown sugar looks just like store-bought ;-)
Next you’ll need to cut in the butter until it is completely and evenly mixed through. I used a fork for this. Worked like a charm but it does take a bit of time (about 3–4 minutes) to get the butter uniformly incorporated. Build those muscles!
Now it’s time to prep the cranberry mixture. If you’ve used a can of cranberry sauce like I did you’ll want to mash up the sauce in a small mixing bowl. It won’t spread well if it’s still in the shape of a can ;-) Take a fork and break up the sauce and add in the roughly chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.
Turn your oven to 350 degrees while you add the cranberry and crunch layers.
OK, here’s where you use that bit of extra butter to grease an 8x8 pan; then pack half of the oats and sugar mixture into the bottom making sure to create an even layer over the entire bottom of the pan.
Spread the cranberry sauce out evenly over the bottom layer of oats.
Spread the other half of the oats mixture out over top of the cranberry sauce but don’e pack it won, Just be sure that it covers the cranberry mixture evenly.
Pop the pan into your warmed oven for 45 minutes. When the time is up you’ll want to let the bars cool for a good while before trying to remove them from the pan. I found that a spatula is required because the bottom oats layer doesn’t get as rigid as you think that it would (perhaps the next time I make them I’ll work on making the cruse more rigid). They are easier to get out of the pan when they aren’t piping hot ;-)
Hot or cold, these Cranberry Crunch Bars are soooooo good! I’m planning to make these around holiday time—I know my family will just love them! Let me know what you think of them when you make them :-)