With the holiday season approaching, I’m scouting for quick, easy and healthy snacks that I can bake to share. Too often, we Americans are surrounded by processed foods loaded with chemicals, sugar, sodium and fat. Tempting as they may appear, these types of foods are not good nutritional choices, and excessive consumption contributes to obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The recipe for Cranberry Applesauce Bars comes from my archives. I’ve tweaked it to use fiber-rich whole-wheat flour and replaced the sugar with honey. Equipped with an electric mixer, you can prepare and bake these fruit-filled treats in less than forty-five minutes. The list of ingredients is short, and with the possible exception of the dried cranberries, most of them are probably all ready stocked in your pantry.
Be sure to start with your butter at room temperature. (Or warm cold butter for 5 seconds in the microwave) Creaming the butter and honey (or sugar) provides the molecular structure for the applesauce to incorporate evenly into the batter. Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a nice spicy accent to the sweetened, dried cranberries.
The chemical reaction of the baking soda with the acidic applesauce provides the leavening. The batter actually started to swell even before I spooned it into the pan, reminding me of all sorts of old-fashioned recipes developed when baking powder was a luxury. These dark, moist and not-too-sweet bars have room for lots of creativity. Raisins, dried blueberries or apples, even chopped nuts are delicious ways to enjoy a healthy dose of fun!
A note to my reader: Behind every recipe there is a family story. Does your family have a favorite for me to make and share with readers?
Cranberry Applesauce Bars
- 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Apple Sauce
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8 inch pan.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, and then add the applesauce. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Stir in the dried cranberries.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 - 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Cut into squares.