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Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars
Friday 18th of November 2011 07:09 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

I was skeptical. Cranberries and cream cheese sounded good. Chocolate and cream cheese sounded good. But I wasn't so sure that combining cranberries, cream cheese AND chocolate was a good idea.

Still, I trusted my source. Jill made these bars quite some time ago. They went in a "to-be-tried" pile, and I uncovered the recipe when I was looking for a cookie to take to the Frog Hollow open house.

And my source didn't steer me wrong. The cookies were a colorful addition to the serving trays. The three seemingly unrelated "C"s combined with the buttery crust to make a scrumptious cookie. The cranberry adds a colorful and classic taste of fall.

With time ticking down to holiday celebrations, the ease of a bar cookie is always a welcome shortcut. Enjoy!

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups mini M&Ms, divided
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 16-oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with baking spray. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, 3/4 cup brown sugar and butter; mix until crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture for topping. Stir 1/2 cup M&Ms into remaining crumb mixture; press into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes. Cool completely.

In bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Pour over crust. In small bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, cornstarch and cranberry sauce. Spoon over cream cheese mixture.

Stir remaining 1 1/4 cups mini M&Ms into reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle over cranberry mixture. Bake 40 minutes. Let cool; chill before cutting. Store covered in refrigerator.

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