It’s officially November, which can only mean one thing…cranberries!
What pumpkin spice is to basic white girls in October, cranberries are to me in November. They’re so good! And not just in sauce next to your turkey. And certainly not in that gloopy stuff that slithers out of the can next to your turkey.* In pies and breads and now bars. Get on it.
Like every year, I popped a raw cranberry in my mouth while making these, even though I know better, because it looked so plump and ruby red and delicious. And for the first time ever (!) it was actually kind of…good? Like, I’m not going to start eating raw cranberries or anything, but it didn’t make me immediately spit it out in the sink and I actually ate two more so it’s basically a super early holiday miracle.
These bars are actually adapted from a reader recipe on My New Roots, which is what prompted my first ever use of brown rice syrup. Holy smokes! It’s basically natural, low-glycemic caramel! Why have I not been baking with this stuff forever and ever?
As a result, these bars are much simpler to make than you might think. No need to burn sugar for a traditional caramel, or even soak dates for a healthy caramel filling. Instead, those cranberries are stirred together with the brown rice syrup and a few other things, nestled on a straightforward oat crust that’s thrown together in the food processor, and sent off to the oven to magically bake down into a sweet, sticky, tart bar that’s the food equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold November night (sidenote: turns out nights are really cold in November in Wisconsin).
And the best part? These bars are vegan, sugar free, and whole grain. Unlike your upcoming Thanksgiving table.
*My family actually prefers this stuff to the real thing. They’re weirdos (@uncleangelo)
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Caramel Cranberry Bars
Adapted from My New Roots
For the crust:
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup pecans
3 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
3 Tablespoons oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
For the filling:
2 Tablespoons flax or chia seeds
6 Tablespoons water
2 cups cranberries
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, blend together the crust ingredients until they clump together. Press evenly into the baking pan.
In a small bowl, mix the flax/chia with the water and set aside to gel. Meanwhile, stir together the rest of the ingredients until the cranberries are evenly coated. Add the flax/chia mixture and stir until combine. Spread the cranberries evenly on top of the crust. Bake for 40 min. The tart will be fragile, so let cool completely before cutting (you can even stick it in the fridge to firm it up more, especially if you’re serving to other people and want to make pretty slices).