Coconut Cranberry Bars with Gingersnap Crust

I enjoy finding new cranberry dishes for my friends and family.  This one I made for the first time for our family Thanksgiving gathering and it was a big hit.  Tonight is our lab’s Christmas party and I promised to make this for them to try.

It’s fairly straightforward with one slight twist.  Instead of the standard gram cracker crust I used gingersnap cookies.  It brings a nice flavor to play with the coconut and makes for a great overall combination.  You can also add extracts-like orange or raspberry for even more flavor.

The hardest part in the prep is spreading the topping.  Its pretty stiff and you have to do it carefully to avoid disturbing the pressed crust which is NOT pre-baked.

NOTE:  This dish takes more than an hour to cool completely on the counter.  You can speed this up by cooling for 20 minutes at room temp and then placing it in the freezer for another 10-20 minutes until firm enough to cut into small pieces.

You’ll need:

Crust

3 cups of gingersnap cookie crumbs

1/2 cup melted butter, unsalted

Topping

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

10 oz white baking chips (I use Ghirardelli)

2 cups dried cranberries (infused cranberries are great in this too-try orange!)

1 cup pecan halves

1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk.

1 tsp flavor extract (optional-try orange or raspberry)

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Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Pulverize your cookies (use a food processor or mallet).  In a small bowl combine crumb and butter.  Mix until you have the consistency of crumbly wet sand. Press crumbs into a 10 x 14 pan to form a firm layer. (I don’t have this size pan, so I use a standard 1/2 sheet pan and press into the desired thickness-I have an open end, but it doesn’t spread much).  Set aside while you prepare the topping.

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Wipe out the bowl you used or get another:  If using orange extract-stir it into the condensed milk first, then add all the topping ingredients. Gently stir everything until well coated.  Gently spread the topping evenly over the crust.  Press down slightly once spread.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until edges begin to brown.

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Remove from oven and allow cool completely before cutting into 1 1/2 inch squares. (See NOTE if cooling time is an issue.) Store between wax paper, parchment paper or foil layers in a tight lid container.  Enjoy!

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