Thursday, September 29, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Browned Butter Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Yes, the title of this post really says Christmas! I know it's not even October yet, but when I found out that the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies challenge/party started this week I just couldn't resist. I mean, who doesn't love the thrill, the smells, and, of course, the delicious products of holiday baking?

To be perfectly honest, I always get a little nervous when people start talking about Christmas in the fall. I haven't even baked my first pumpkin-laced dessert and now I'm supposed to be thinking about reindeer and stocking up on egg nog? I also find it strange that Christmas products are showing up earlier and earlier in the stores these days. I guess what bothers me the most is the commercialization of a holiday that should be about so much more than wreaths and wrapping paper.

Still, I love everything about Christmas - the music, the family, the decorations, and hope for the world that it represents. And yes, I really love Christmas baking! So each Thursday, from now until December 15th, I'll be sharing some holiday baking with a great group of bloggers - and all of you, of course! This little blog party is being graciously hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic, and I can't wait to see what everyone contributes!

Those of you who are great planners (i.e the people who've already bought presents for one or more people on their Christmas list!) can use this party as an opportunity to get some ideas for your holiday baking. The uber-proactive can even crank up the Bing Crosby and start stuffing their freezers, but if, like me, you're a bit wary of Christmas-in-September, you can just treat each Thursday's post as an ordinary recipe - I promise I won't bring out the red and green food coloring for a few weeks at least!

Browned Butter Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
very slightly adapted from this Cooking Light recipe

For Crust:
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional, but tasty)
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons orange juice

For Filling:
3/4 - 1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup plain or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 11x7-inch baking dish. Set aside.

To prepare crust, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until butter just begins to brown (butter may froth and smell slightly nutty - don't worry, this is normal!). When butter turns a caramel color, remove immediately from heat, decant into a small bowl and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle melted butter and orange juice over dry ingredients, stirring until moistened. Mixture will be crumbly. Set aside 1/2 -3/4 cup oat mixture (your preference - I like a lot of topping!). Press remaining crust into the prepared baking dish. Set aside.

To prepare filling, combine cranberries, yogurt, sugar, flour, vanilla, orange zest and egg white in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Spread filling evenly over prepared crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove pan to a wire rack and cool completely before cutting.

A few notes: The original Cooking Light recipe looked great, but I didn't have any sour cream so I substituted some plain yogurt. This allowed me to cut back on the sugar (1/3 cup instead of the original 1/2 cup) which ended up making the recipe even healthier! I also cut back a bit on the cranberries and found that 3/4 cup was more than enough.

The browned butter was another change - because it tastes and smells so good! These days, I substitute it in almost any recipe that calls for melted butter because it adds richness without additional calories. If you want to make a bigger batch, double the crust, increase the filling by 50% and bake in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

This makes a great all-year recipe, but the tanginess of the yogurt, orange zest and cranberries make it holiday appropriate as well. Enjoy and be sure to check out some of the other delicious contributions below!

This post has been linked at:

Skip To My Lou: Made By You Monday - Delightfully Dowling: Mangia Mondays - Keeping it Simple: Motivate Me Monday - C.R.A.F.T: Making Monday Marvelous - Making the World Cuter: Making the World Cuter Monday - Dittle Dattle: Amaze Me Monday - Marvelously Messy: A Marvelous Mess Monday - Permanent Posies: Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits - Fireflies and Jellybeans: Show Off Your Stuff - My Girlish Whims: Your Whims Wednesday - Polka Dots on Parade: Wow Me Wednesday - Blue Cricket Design: Show and Tell  - Southern Lovely: Show & Share - Ginger Snap Crafts: Wow Me Wednesday - Sew Much Ado: We Did It Wednesday - This Chick Cooks: These Chicks Cooked - Feeding Four: What's Cooking Thursday - What Allie's Making Now: Making it With Allie - It's a Keeper: It's a Keeper Thursday - Delightful Order: Delightfully Inspiring Thursday - The 36th Avenue: Share Your Awesomeness - House of Hepworths: Hookin' Up With HoH - The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday - Thirty Handmade Days: Pity Party - Simply Sweet Home: Friday Favorites - Fingerprints on the Fridge: Feature Yourself Friday - Sugar Bananas: Sweets This Week - Sweet As Sugar Cookies: Sweets For A Saturday - Bacon Time: Any Linky Goes Weekend Party - Lolly Jane Boutique: Watcha Got Weekend - Six Sister's Stuff: Strut Your Stuff Saturday - Homemaker In Heels: Weekend Craft Soiree - A Well Seasoned Life: Sweet Indulgences Sunday


  1. These look absolutely delicious!!!

  2. Beautiful blog! Love the photo in the background! The cranberry oatmeal bars look divine!

  3. I love the idea of a filling made with Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese and browned butter is always divine. Great first pick! Happy to be baking with you this year.

  4. The flavors sound delicious. I've never used a cookie recipe that calls for yogurt, so I'd really love to try this out!

  5. Thanks, ladies! I'm a big fan of baking with yogurt - I think it makes things more moist, and I pretty much always have it on hand. The yogurt adaptation for this recipe is so simple - and the bonus is that it makes it even healthier (without compromising on taste!)

  6. (found ya on a link party)
    These look delicious.. defiantly pinning them to my food board :)

  7. Oh thanks for sharing at Bacon Time. These look so good.

  8. These look really good! Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites last week!

  9. Yum!! Let the holiday baking begin I say!!
    Cute blog name by the way!!
    Thanks for linking up to Show & Share!!

  10. Featuring YOU over on my blog today! Thank you so much for linking up to last week's {wow me} wednesday party! :)

    Ginger @