Don't get me wrong, fruit crumbles are good as they are, but like many foodies I wanted to make them better. After tasting the final dish, I can say that the flavors are really made for each other. Maybe the flavor addition is not a new thing. However, the manner in which it is incorporated into these bars allows it to stand out and compliment the flavor of the fruit.
I was so pleased with this dish that I have decided to bring it to a pot luck luncheon. Last time they had a luncheon there were only a few "store bought" desserts, so I am sure this will be a welcome treat.
Now, read on to find out what that extra layer is.
Ingredients/Base & Topping
1/4 plus 2 tbs butter (cold & cut into cubes)
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup regular oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3.5 oz almond paste (1/2 of standard 7 oz package)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch
Grease an 8X8 pan and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, letting excess paper hang over the two sides. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan mix all the filling ingredients together and place over medium high heat. Stirring constantly, let the mixture come to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover pan. Let the mixture cook about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. As it cooks, the filling will become thicker and the cranberries will pop. This should take about 10-15 minutes. If any cranberries remained intact after the cooking time, take a spoon and mash them. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar, oats and almonds. Toss the butter cubes in the bowl. Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or fork, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Measure out 1 cup and set aside.
Empty the bowl of the remaining crumb mixture into the prepared pan. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Then take the almond paste and place it between two sheets of waxed paper. Pat it into a disk, then use a rolling pin to flatten it out. It will need to be rolled into a square that fits into the 8X8 pan. Using a methods of rolling, tearing off pieces and patching, the paste should come very close to the desired size.
Remove top layer of wax paper and wrap paste around rolling pin. Unroll paste from rolling pin and place over the crumb layer in the pan. Then drop spoonfuls of the filling onto the almond paste layer and smooth with a knife until evenly distributed. Lastly, take the reserved cup of the crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Lastly, lightly pat the crumbs into the filling.
Place pan in oven and bake until the top crumbs reach a golden brown color. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove pan and place on rack. Let cool completely and then run a knife along the sides that were not lined with parchment paper. Remove from pan by lifting the parchment over hang on the two sides. It is now ready to cut and serve.