Sunday, November 13, 2011

Butternut Squash Bars with Cranberries and Walnuts

Did you get a chance to make Pumpkin Raisin Oatmeal Cookies for a healthy snack last week? If you didn't have time or that particular squash isn't your cup of tea, let me offer up another suggestion-Butternut Squash Bars with Cranberries and Walnuts. The original recipe contains white chocolate and an excessive amount of sugar, but I've scaled these back to a slighty sweet snack rather than a saccharin dessert. The sweet butternut squash beautifully complements the nutty whole wheat flour, rich walnuts, and sweet and tangy dried cranberries in these delightful little bars, perfect with a cup of tea. The dark brown sugar and butternut squash add just enough sweetness to make these feel like a treat, but the whole wheat flour, dried cranberries, and walnuts make these filling and nutritious enough to serve as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon boost or late night guilt-free nibble. If you decide to take these bars on the dessert route, add just a bit more sugar and perhaps some (dark) chocolate, if you like, for a delicious fall treat.

Butternut Squash Bars with Cranberries and Walnuts
adapted significantly from Whole Foods
makes 12 bars

4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated butternut squash
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or canola oil spray; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, toss together squash, flour, cranberries, walnuts, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together until pale and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in butter and vanilla, then add flour mixture and stir together just until combined.

3. Transfer to prepared pan and bake until just set in the middle and golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Set aside to let cool, then cut into 12 squares and serve.

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