Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chocolate, Cranberry & Oat Bars

A funny thing happened the other day when I did a Healthier Living Dessert search on the Kraft Kitchens site: It gave me a list of 63 dessert recipes, one of which was Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie. I know I haven't been cooking stuff very long, but where I come from, chicken pot pie is not considered a dessert! I laughed. A lot.

Our family closes up our cottage on Thanksgiving, but we did it a week early this year due to scheduling conflicts on the real weekend. As part of our closing up weekend, we have a nice potluck dinner, usually with a bunch of our neighbours up there, and it's a relaxing evening of good food and great socializing, often while taking warm refuge from the inclement weather that can accommodate the holiday. This year, we kept it pretty low-key with just our family, about 15 of us altogether. We all pitched in for food and I made this recipe for dessert.

I periodically wish my kitchen had more counter space. Better still, I wish the dishes would clean themselves, but I think the counter wish will come true before the dish wish. The dishes usually get in the way of the counter, especially in recipes like this one where there's a greased pan lying around, plus a bowl with the dry ingredients, plus the bowl where you're blending the butter and sugar, plus the bowl that you were blending the butter in until you realized it wasn't going to work, etc. You get the picture. Jenny gave me a suggestion to deal with the dishes, but I've yet to take her up on it out of laziness to date.

I was a little pressed for time with this recipe so I recruited the Chocolatarian to help me speed up the process. He's an experienced baker and loves chocolate so I delegated the "coarsly chopped" chocolate task to him. Next time, I'll hack the pecans to pieces before I start the recipe, but thankfully I was able to squeeze that tedious task in while he blended the sugar and butter for me. I was apprehensive about using cranberries since I'm not a big cranberry fan, but they're not overpowering and they lend a bit of tartness to offset any excess sweetness in this recipe. I noticed that one can also use raisins instead of cranberries if that's an issue for you.

These bars that I cut into squares were quite well received. No one seemed to even care that they were a "healthier" dessert option which means to me that they didn't taste too "diet-esque" or anything equally revolting. In fact, both Jeff and Jenny were eager to take some extra squares home with them which I heartily encouraged since otherwise I'll be stuck with them for weeks. The squares I mean, not my cousins. We had an extensive dessert collection this year for our holiday meal, and my little bars got snatched up as quickly as all the chocolatey-goodness options which made me feel good. I even got asked for the recipe, hooray!

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