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So many of the comfort foods I make for my family are oatmeal recipes–oatmeal cookies, baked oatmeal, apple crisp, and my favorite granola. In fact, I always keep a container of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats in my pantry because I use them so often, especially during holiday baking season. It’s definitely a time for sharing comfort food and favorite family recipes, and these Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars, made with Quaker rolled oats and served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, are what holiday comfort food is all about!
Right now Quaker Oats–both the old fashioned and quick varieties–come in special 42 oz. winter canisters available at your neighborhood Target store for a limited time only. I just love the addition of the scarf on the Quaker and the beautiful snowy scene! Even better, there’s a coupon available when you purchase Quaker Oats at Target now through Jan. 11, 2015.
Since I had to stop by Target to pick up my prescriptions, I decided to pick up some Quaker Oats in the special edition packaging, along with some cranberry sauce, for my Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars.
These Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars are so easy to put together using pantry staples that you probably already have on hand. Everything is mixed together with a dash of cinnamon to form a slightly sweet, crumbly mixture that will serve as both the crust and topping for these delicious oat bars.
The buttery oat layer is topped off with a layer of sweetened cream cheese. It’s like having a layer of cheesecake in the middle of your dessert! The cranberry sauce is mixed together with a bit of sugar and cornstarch and spooned over the cream cheese. I love how the ribbon of red cranberry filling adds such a festive touch to this dessert.
Everything is topped off with more of the oat mixture and baked until everything is set. We love to enjoy these bars warm, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some caramel sauce and chopped pecans. Served up that way, you could almost call it a Cranberry Cream Cheese Crisp. The recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13 pan, but sometimes I make half and bake it up in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. This is especially fun if we’ll be topping it off with ice cream. We all grab a spoon and eat right from the pan!
Of course, one of the reasons I love this recipe so much is that it’s versatile. The bars are delicious on their own, served at room temperature, which makes them easy to transport to holiday potlucks and gatherings–and there’s plenty to feed a crowd! I try to keep a can of whole berry cranberry sauce handy just so I can whip this dessert up at the last minute. It’s always good to have a few easy, go-to recipes for unexpected guests or impromptu get togethers, especially during the holiday season!
Because it’s so simple, this is also a great recipe for having kids help you in the kitchen. Some of my fondest holiday memories involve being in the kitchen with my family preparing some of our favorite holiday treats and dishes. In fact, I think the only thing better than inviting your family to share a slice of these Cranberry Cream Cheese bars would be inviting them into the kitchen to help bake!
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Vanilla ice cream
- Caramel sauce
- Chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
- With an electric mixer, beat flour, oats, brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the oat mixture.
- Press the remaining mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Add the condensed milk and stir until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla.
- Spread cream cheese mixture over baked crust.
- In a small bowl, combine cranberry sauce, cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Spoon over cream cheese layer, then top with reserved oat mixture.
- Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm with ice cream, caramel sauce and chopped nuts, or cool completely and cut into bars.