Browned Butter Cranberry Cheer Bars (glutenfree)


Sometimes you just need a little cheer.

The colder holiday season is always a little rough for me. It’s when my Crohn’s Disease likes to rear its ugly head. I’m not sure if it’s because of the lack of sunlight (hello vitamin D supplements!), the richer foods we turn to for comfort, or the stress of doing everything just so at this busier time of year, but in the past, I typically had have a flare up sometime between October and February. I’m trying to prevent that from happening this year. Learning to listen to my body and know when I’m approaching that frazzled feeling (and allowing myself to slow down) has been vital to staying healthy.

This year, I thought I was doing better. You know, between supporting my mom through her breast cancer trials (chemo, radiation, mastectomy), my husband through his unnamed-but-still-as-real viral illness, my grandmother through her colonectomy, keeping the bake shop afloat, buying a house and moving, then managing a remodel on said house, and hosting 14 people over for Thanksgiving… But I can admit it. I am feeling run down. And so weary. I have been conserving my energy, simply because I don’t have that much to give. I have realized that I am becoming more introverted, preferring time spent at home to that going out an socializing. And when I feel inspired, I am baking more and playing with recipes in my new kitchen. It makes everything cozier, warmer, and cheerier.



This year at Thanksgiving, we hosted a potluck style super casual dinner. I made a turkey (roasted upside down, oops!), dinner rolls, crostini, cranberry compote, vanilla bean ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, cranberry sorbert, brie en croute (a wheel of brie enclosed in flaky pastry crust!), Cranbosa’s (cranberry mimosas made with aforementioned sorbet), and fig jam-glazed Brussels sprouts. My guests brought everything else. It made for a very relaxed day cooking. Well, except for the fact that my new oven should have roasted the turkey in 5 or 6 hours (since it was still partially frozen), but it cooked through in only 2 1/2 hours. And yes, I checked with 2 different probe thermometers in 5 different spots on the bird and it was done!

The cranberry compote was DELICIOUS. I’m glad I made a huge batch of it because I had enough to use it with goat cheese topped crostini, serve as a side, spin into sorbet, AND still make these Cranberry Cheer Bars for an after-thanksgiving repurpose leftovers dessert.

The beauty of these bars is that they are really delicious, and easy to make. Start with the cranberry compote. It has two steps involved (mix the ingredients, then heat), it freezes well, and it keeps for over a week in the fridge. If you make extra, you can do as I did, and blend some of the compote in your food processor or blender and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. It makes wonderful sorbet- a little sweet and a little tart. Or swirl some compote into your vanilla ice cream in the final stages of freezing. The possibilities are numerous.

The cookie base and crumb topping is based off my Apple Pie Slab Bars from my cookbook “Sweet Cravings.” If you have the book, you’ll know that they’re like most desserts I favor: SUPER quick and easy to make, but delicious. (Baking them is the longest part of the process, and if you know your oven, that should take you less time than it took me).
To enhance the taste of the Cranberry Cheer Bars, I browned the butter first, and let it cool completely to room temperature. Oh the flavor you’ll get from this! It does take a long time to cool, so try browning your butter before you start the cranberry compote. You can even refrigerate the butter to make it harden faster if you live somewhere where it’s NOT 34 degrees. And a teaspoon of freshly-cut rosemary blended with the sugar in the cookie bar base gives a slightly piney scent to the bars, while not being obvious or overpowering.
Browned Butter Cranberry Cheer Bars
A festive and delicious cranberry-rosemary cookie bar to delight everyone.
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For the cookie bar base
  1. 1 cup (8 ounces) butter, browned and cooled completely
  2. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup millet flour
  5. 1 cup sweet white rice flour
  6. 1 cup tapioca flour
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Cranberry Compote
  1. 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 cup orange juice
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
  5. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
To make the cookie bar base
  1. Brown the butter over medium heat and let cool to room temperature (butter will solidify, but will be brown and smell nutty. Don't skip this step: it provides a lovely deep flavor!
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 13x9 inch casserole pan with gluten-free pan spray and line with parchment baking paper. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, blend together the fresh rosemary and the sugar to finely chop the rosemary and release the oil into the sugar.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cooled browned butter on high speed until light and creamy and then add the rosemary sugar. Beat until fluffy and creamy and several shades lighter.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the millet flour, sweet white rice flour, tapioca flour and salt and then add half the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mix. Mix on low speed until mostly combined and then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mix and combine on low speed. Press two-thirds of the cookie base into the baking pan, reserving the remaining third of the dough. Bake until lightly golden brown and set to the touch, about 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the Cranberry Ginger Compote
  1. In a deep skillet, heat together the cranberries with the sugar, orange juice, chopped candied ginger, and dried cranberries over high heat until the liquid boils, the sugar dissolves, and the cranberries burst open.
  2. Drop heat to medium-low and continue to stir occasionally until the mixture thickens up.
  3. Spread cranberry compote over the baked cookie bar base and dot the top with the remaining third of the cookie dough.
  4. Bake until the cookie top is lightly golden and set, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely before cutting.
  6. Serve alone or with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.
Kyra Bussanich | Life is Sweet!


  • Maryann says:

    Where can I find the recipe for the Cranberry Cheer Bars? All I can see is a partial recipe for World Peace Cookies….

    • Kyra says:

      OY! Thank you Maryann! That was a mistake and I’m not sure why the recipe disappeared, but it should be fixed now. Let me know if you have troubles with this (and if you make it, let me know what you think!)

      • Maryann says:

        Kyra – I made these but had some trouble with the recipe. The recipe states to beat the browned butter until creamy, but after browning, the butter stayed as a liquid at room temp and no amount of beating turned it creamy. I beat in the brown sugar to a lighter color, but in the end the baked bars were very sandy in texture.

        • Kyra says:

          Hmm. Did you make the browned butter way in advance? I usually make it an hour or so before I need it. (In this case, I browned the butter BEFORE I made the Cranberry Compote, but in the interest of trying to keep the ingredients together for each component, I didn’t write the recipe that way.) Browned butter will cool and harden at room temperature, or in the fridge, and then you can whip it like stick butter (or maybe that’s just in the Pacific NorthWest, where it’s 40 degrees). If it stays as liquid, it does affect the texture and will be sandy like you experienced.

          THank you for your feedback…I’ll go back and edit the post and make a note of that. You can always try regular stick butter at room temperature, and see if you like that better. I do love the flavor of browned butter though.

          • Maryann says:

            That was probably the issue. I did not make the browned butter very far in advance, just long enough for it to cool. I will definitely try these again. The flavor was excellent! Thanks :)

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