You won’t find too many bar cookies out there that look as festive as these Cranberry and Pistachio Squares. These bar cookies are studded with bright green pistachio nuts and are bursting with whole, red cranberries. On the lightly colored cookie background, the red and green pop out vividly – and that will definitely make you want to reach out and grab a square for a taste.
The bars look similar to blondies, but are much more tender than your average blondie is. They’re soft and a little bit crumbly, with a thin, crisp topping of coarse sugar. Whole cranberries – you can use fresh or frozen – are coarsely chopped and added into the bars. They are not only brightly colored, but their bright and tangy flavor comes through clearly. It also makes the bars seem very fresh and really makes them stand out from bar cookies that only use dried cranberries. Pistachios are incorporated into the dough alongside the cranberries and a few of them are also sprinkled on top to add some texture.
I prefer using lightly salted pistachios for this recipe because it adds just a hint of saltiness to the topping of these squares (you will not notice any extra salt in the bars themselves). It’s a nice contrast to the coarse sugar that is also sprinkled on top. I also happen to prefer eating lightly salted pistachios. If you prefer unsalted, they will work just as well in the recipe and you will still get bars with a delicious combination of cranberries and pistachios.
Cranberry and Pistachio Squares
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, divided (salted or unsalted)
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and stir on low speed until just combined. Mix in chopped cranberries and 6 tbsp pistachios. Dough should have a cookie dough-like consistency.
Spread dough into prepared pan using a spatula to push it into the corners. Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp pistachios evenly on top of the dough, then sprinkle the dough all over with coarse sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and edges are golden.
Cool completely before slicing into squares with a sharp knife.
Makes 16 squares