I LOVED Cranberry Newtons back when they existed. I've recently been missing them, so I decided to try out a homemade version, but then the whole Newton-izing process seemed too complicated so I made them into bars instead and they were delicious! This recipe is heavily adapted from one on Serious Eats. There are quite a few ingredients, but they're all pretty straightforward, and they come together to make a great flavor that really does remind me of Newtons. —fiveandspice
a 9 x 13-inch pan of bars
For the cranberry filling:
fresh or frozen cranberries
For the Newton bar dough:
(about 1/2 plus 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
(about 1/2 plus 1/3 cup) whole-wheat flour
To make the cranberry filling, combine the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the cranberries are all popped and the juices are syrupy, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest. Allow to cool. It will thicken more as it cools. If you want a more Newton-like filling, you can blend up the cranberry filling in a food processor until smooth. I just left it chunky.
To make the Newton dough, stir together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy -- about a minute -- then add the sugars, honey, and vanilla, and beat until nice and fluffy -- about 3 minutes -- stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated, and once again making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the flour and mix it in on low until just fully incorporated, then mix in the milk just until fully incorporated as well.
Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan well. Then, using well-floured fingers, press about half of the dough into the bottom. It will make a very thin layer -- about a quarter inch thick (the dough is sticky, so keep your fingers as covered with flour as necessary). Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap as well and refrigerate both for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight (if they're nice and tightly covered).
To assemble and bake the bars, heat your oven to 325° F. First uncover and bake the dough in the baking dish until it puffs a bit and turns lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the cranberry filling in an even layer over the bottom crust. Then, take the remaining dough out of the fridge. Using floured fingers, pinch bits of this dough off and place them on top of the cranberry filling until you've used all the dough and the filling is evenly scattered with dough bits.
Bake the bars in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then (while it's still warm), cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or a layer of tin foil to keep some of the steam in to keep the bars more on the soft side, like Newtons. When they're cooled, cut them into squares and serve.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.