Simple Sundays | Cranberry Curd & Hazelnut Shortbread Bars
I try really hard. And sometimes, well, sometimes…I just can’t do it all.
For those of you who are so wonderful enough to visit me, week after week, I want you to know that I really am so thankful. I appreciate that you take a moment out of your day to drop by and see what I’ve been up to in my kitchen. You listen to my stories, as mundane as they may be. And that really means a lot to me. It does! So when I don’t post as often as I would like, it bothers me. When you write a food blog, you set goals, as you would for anything important. For me, that includes how often I publish a post. When I’ve got a good rhythm going, that means you can count on hearing from me three times a week. And when I don’t, I feel as though I’ve let you (and myself) down.
But life is also about choices, and this week, I was torn. Torn between the choice to write and the choice to see my daughter at her class Writer’s Celebration. Torn between the choice to photograph these amazing hazelnuts or my children for our family’s Christmas Card. Torn between taking my husband up on his offer to take the children to see Arthur Christmas so I can stay home and write today or spending some quality time with the entire family. I’ll give you one guess how I chose.
While I feel like I was letting you down, I knew that I needed to be there for my daughter and see the pride on her face as she presented to me her best pieces, chock full of colorful adjectives and action verbs, and even some similes thrown in for good measure. The natural light was perfect the afternoon I took my kids for a little photo shoot – and they melted my heart as they hugged each other and hammed it up for my camera. And today, I got to sit next to my husband and share a sinful bucket of salty, buttery popcorn. My son passed me Red Vines and my daughter held my hand as we laughed. After a week of my husband traveling for work, it was just what my family needed. Besides that, Arthur Christmas turned out to be pretty damn good movie. I can’t say that enough these days.
I hope you take a moment for yourself. Take a moment in this mad, crazy holiday season to spend time with the ones you love. Take a moment to watch a good movie. (Really, if you haven’t seen Arthur Christmas, go! It’s brilliant. You will love it, I promise.) Take a moment to bake these Cranberry Curd & Hazelnut Shortbread Bars. Take the time to toast the hazelnuts and fill your kitchen with the intoxicating aroma of nutty goodness. Take the time to lick the spoon after you spread the cranberry curd. Take the time to enjoy these with a good cup of tea. Or coffee. Or milk.
I’ll be thinking of you. And even if I’m not able to post on schedule, you will surely hear from me soon.
Cranberry Curd & Hazelnut Shortbread Bars
Yield: Makes 16 small bars.
When I made my cranberry curd last week, I knew I wanted to combine its tangy sweetness with the distinct nutty flavor of toasted hazelnuts. Feel free to substitute your favorite curd or jam - it will be wonderful, I'm sure!
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Cranberry Curd (see my recipe here)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lined baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel away the papery husks and discard. Roughly chop or crush the hazelnuts.
Line an 8x8 square cake or brownie pan with cooking spray and parchment paper. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Stir in the flour, followed by the pecans until it comes together. When the dough has achieved a crumbly texture that comes together when pressed with your fingertips.
Take about half of the crumbly dough and scatter evenly over the baking pan, pressing very lightly. The surface should be covered evenly, with no gaping holes. Take the cranberry curd and spoon it in dollops, carefully spreading over the layer, without disturbing the crust below. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the cranberry curd. Refrigerate for about an hour or until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bars for about 35 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown. If necessary, cover about midway with a piece of foil to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Slice and serve.
Shortbread crust adapted from Art Smith's Pecan Shortbread Cookies, Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family. Method adapted from Raspberry Shortbread Bars, Food & Wine.