Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices Review

Recipe 70 from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

WW Note: There will be about 36 small rectangle pieces which come out to 6 points per rectangle. As usual you could switch out the butter with ICBINB or use a replacement sugar like monk fruit or stevia, and that will definitely cut some of the point value. I just have a really hard time with fake sweeteners so I’m giving you the worst it’s going to be!

This recipe can be found in Deb Perelman’s “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” on page 206 or on the following sites:

Lottie and Doof

Homesick Texan

Figs In My Belly

So I made this recipe in July. I struggled and looked everywhere for cranberries knowing that I wasn’t going to find them because it’s…July. I thought maybe I should skip over it and just come back to it during cranberry season. But everything in me told me don’t do it because I really want to do these recipes in chronological order. That means I also don’t want to wait until cranberry season to make this! So I caved and I chose a different berry that’s much more friendly to the month of July and that is blueberries. So these are not cranberry crumb bars with mulling spices, these are Blueberry Crumb Bars with mulling spices.

What’s funny is that in all my hemming and hawing, I didn’t even realize till later that in her introduction to the recipe, Deb comments about this recipe being a Fall version of her Blueberry Crumble Bars. What seems to be the biggest difference between the two recipes is that with this recipe you’re using oranges juice and orange zest with all of the fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. Whereas the blueberry crumble bars call for lemon juice and lemon zest to pair with the blueberries and without the spices.

I went ahead and kept the recipe the same other than the cranberries. I did consider using dried cranberries but I wasn’t sure if it would have the texture that she was going for in the recipe.

The other step that I switched out, which actually ended up simplifying this recipe, was skipping on using the food processor. She talks about using it with cranberries when combining the filling ingredients but she didn’t want the cranberries to become pureed. I knew if I put the blueberries in the food processor that once I turned it on the blueberries would be instant puree. So I just put them on top of the bar base which saved me the step of pulling out and using and cleaning my food processor. Win win!

I think I wish I would have tried the cranberries in some form other than just using the blueberries. These were good but there was something off about the blueberries being used. I don’t know if I’ve ever had blueberries with these kinds of fall spices and maybe that’s why the taste was just a little off.

I was able to take this final product to a church group so I didn’t have to keep them at home. Despite my desire to keep cranberries in this recipe and not swap them out for blueberrie, they were still really tasty. My husband and I had far too many of them before they left the house for good.

The crumble top was awesome as well and I kept trying to dream up what else we could use that crumble on top of. It would have been yummy just on top of ice cream or over an apple pie or eat alongside a bowl of apples. It was just tasty!

I think if I could rename this when using blueberries I might try calling it a Mulled Blueberry Bar! It kind of combines the two recipes honoring the fact that you’re using fall spices with blueberries and not throwing people off when they make the recipe and expect something fresher for the summer.

I’m thrilled at the idea of pulling this recipe out in the fall when I see cranberries and making sure to bring this to another gathering so that we don’t eat them all up! Those cranberries with these spices will be absolutely delicious. I love mulled wine so even having these next to a warm pot full of mulled wine or cider would be the best warm treat on a crisp fall day. Am I getting you excited for fall yet? can this one for your fall recipe board on Pinterest because you’ll definitely want to come back to it when the weather changes :-)

Happy bar baking everybody!

UPDATE 10/26/19

It’s cranberry season! As soon as I saw them at the store I grabbed a few bags vowing to circle back and try this again with cranberries! We meet with our Life Group on Sundays so that gave me the best reason to give these a try again!


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