It may be a sign of some subconscious aversion of authority, or simply a display of an adventurous spirit, but I've developed some kind of tick that makes it impossible for me to simply leave a recipe alone. I need to tinker, I can not help it! And this is one of those cases.
I did give joyofbaking.com a go, I used the original recipe for their cranberry shortbread bars a few weeks ago to take along with me to brunch, but when I opened up my refrigerator to find beautifully plump little bluberries smiling up at me, not to mention the left over cranberries I had patiently awaiting their yummy fate in my freezer, this recipe came to mind. So, I sliced up an apple and tossed them all into my cast iron pot with a touch of water and, this time, agave nectar rather than sugar, and set them to boil.
After a few minutes it began to look like something from Professor Snape's class, which is exactly what we want! This means a yummy, silky syrup is in the making. So I killed the heat and put the lid onto my pot (cast iron is so magnificent for exactly this reason, once you let it warm up, you can turn off the stove and these little guys will stay warm for ages. Perfect if like me, you live where this absurd heatwave is unforgiving.) however, if you're using a regular pot, just turn the heat down as low as it'll go, we want the fruit to give up all of their tasty juices, and a little warmth certainly helps to coax it out.
Now we've got to make the shortbread crust, simply cream one cup of room temperature butter until fluffy and light, then add 1/3 cup brown sugar and one tsp vanilla.
After that I sifted up my flour ( I decided to use whole wheat because I thought the color and texture just went well with the fruit, but if you want something more cookieish, then go right ahead and stick with all purpose, as the original recipe suggests) and gently combined it with my butter.
Next just divide your dough into three pieces and pat two of them into your pan, I used an 8x8 so my cookies would be nice and thick, but if you'd like them thin, (which would be lovely, then they would be like tasty little pop tarts!) use what ever pan you'd like, just remember that the thinner the cookie, the faster it'll bake, so keep an eye on them.
After that, spread the fruit over the crust. It's perfectly fine for the fruit to be warm, but if it's too hot to touch, give it a few moments to cool first, you don't want it to melt the butter in the dough.
This is where it got fun, for the streusal-y goodness on top of the cookies, I added lots of lemon zest and a touch of lemon juice to the remaining 1/3 of dough, then a bit of extra whole wheat flour and somewhere around 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.
Then I mixed that up until it looked crumbly, and broke the big bits into pieces over the fruit.
I used my little convection oven, as to not turn my already warm home into a sauna by firing up the big oven, and it became a gorgeous golden brown in around 35 minutes on 375, then I let them cool for an hour or so.
And after a good dousing in powdered sugar they were ready for tasting!
Let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
Not two days later and they are already gone. Now that's a compliment.
Here is the original recipe, if anyone is interested; and as always, I'm happy to answer any questions!http://www.joyofbaking.com/barsandsquares/CranberryShortbreadBars.html