Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Cranberry-Orange-Nut Cookie Bars

I used the cranberry-orange-nut-cookies recipe found at that link (recipe copied below in case it ever disappears from their site) to make our dessert tonight.

Changes I made to the recipe:

I didn't feel like dealing with cookies tonight, so I made them into bars in a 9X13 pan instead. I just sprinkled the 3T of sugar over the top of the bars before cooking. I also used nonstick cooking spray on the pan instead of parchment paper.

The dough is very sticky and I did have to use a small piece of parchment paper to spread and press it into the pan; it was sticking to the spatula and would have been a MESS if I'd used my fingers.

Cooking time for the bars was increased; I cooked mine for 22 minutes and upon cutting them, they were still somewhat gooey. Could definitely use a little more time. I left them in the pan to cool rather than removing them after a minute.


The batter was VERY tasty! Sweet and citrusy, with a nice nuttiness. And there are no raw eggs to worry about either! (Not that we wouldn't eat it anyway if it DID have them, but we like to flirt with death around these parts.) As mentioned though, it is very sticky, even after being refrigerated for half an hour.

Family feedback:

K-Pidge: The bars rose quite a bit more than I expected them to; that was nice. The 3T of sugar on top was a bit too much (not in flavor; I have quite the sweet tooth, much to my diabetic regret!); there was plenty still rolling around when I shook it gently after baking. I will try cutting back to 2T of sugar next time. These bars, even slightly undercooked, were DELICIOUS! OH MY GOODNESS. I wouldn't change a thing, except maybe the aforementioned cutting back of the sprinkled sugar, and cooking them a tad longer. SO GOOD. The doubled bar-portion is really generous too; I was very happy with just one.

Mr. K-Pidge: Reserves his final say for the next time when we allow them to cook a little more fully, but otherwise they receive high marks. Flavor is great. "I wouldn't mind if you made these more often," he says. He wouldn't change anything per se, but noted "chocolate chips... chocolate chips would KICK ASS."

Boy K-Pidge (6): These are great! Make them again, don't change anything.

Girl K-Pidge (4): Has thus far refused to try them out of sheer orneriness.

Frugality Rating:

By turning it into bars, I cut the number of servings in half, from 30 to 15. That changes the cost differential a little; but also, let's be realistic. The cookie serving was ONE cookie. Who eats just one cookie?! That's right, NO ONE. So a doubled-up bar is probably more realistic anyway. Outside of that... this is a pretty simple home-baked good. It relied largely on ingredients I already had on hand, and it didn't use all of any of these items, meaning it would take a whole lot of math for me to figure out the exact cost of each bar, BUT, I'm guessing it's 50 cents or less a piece. Pretty frugal dessert, if you can keep yourself from eating the whole pan! But even if you DID eat the whole pan, it was probably only about $7 or so. Not too shabby.

Health rating:

The site says the nutritionals for one cookie are as follows: Per cookie: 102 calories; 5 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 94 mg sodium; 24 mg potassium.

(I haven't figured out how to examine our diet for proper levels of fat, protein and carbs yet, exactly. I mostly count calories to try and lose weight, but since I'd like to change the QUALITY of the food we're eating, I'll need to figure that part out eventually.)

Now, since I halved the serving amount, you'd need to double that per bar. So 204 calories per bar, which isn't too bad for a snack (again, if you only eat one!). Diabetes-wise, that jumps it 30g carbs, which is about double where I want to be for a snack. All things in moderation.

Reheat rating:

It's a cookie-bar. It should freeze pretty well, I'd think. I threw one in the freezer to test at a later date. As far as making ahead and how long they'll last, says this: Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the dough through Step 2, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. So, this should be a pretty good holiday treat recipe, since it can be prepared ahead of time. I will report back on how well the frozen cooked version held up!

I did not reserve any batter to freeze, but I bet this would hold up quite well in the freezer too. It doesn't have any ingredients that really don't freeze well (such as eggs). I will explore this theory at a later date, perhaps closer to the holidays.

Is it a keeper?

OH MY YES. It was delicious. Five out of five spoons. A definite win!

Recipe in case it ever disappears from the site:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup smooth, unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in walnuts and dried cranberries.
Whisk 1 cup sugar, applesauce, oil, orange zest and juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar into a small flat-bottomed dish or pan. Roll the dough with floured hands (it will be very moist) into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies until barely golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the pan for 1 minute; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

This is part of K-Pidge's efforts to feed her family healthier, more nutritious foods. For all posts in the K-Pidge Healthy Family Project, click here.

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