Cranberry Magic Bars

You know when you receive an invitation to Sunday lunch with friends you haven't seen in a long time? The kind of friends who you know will fill your tummies completely with delicious food, meat that has been raised by them, with all the trimmings, and even though you want to bring something to contribute, you know that nothing is needed? Well, we were in this precise situation last Sunday. Even though our hosts had said we absolutely didn't need to bring anything, we didn't want to turn up empty handed.

So, I whipped up some cranberry magic bars. The original recipe is in the Hummingbird Bakery book, Cake Days, which is a wonderful book. These bars are a wonderful combination of textures: a little bit of crunch from the shortbread, a tiny bit of chew from the cranberries and condensed milk, and the desiccated coconut adds something just right.
These bars are yet more proof that condensed milk really is the perfect ingredient for baking. My favourite cookie recipes use it, and now I've discovered how well it works in these bars? The possibilities are endless.

Cranberry Magic Bars
for the base:
40g icing sugar (confectioners')
120g unsalted butter, softened
150g plan (all purpose) flour

for the topping
150g condensed milk
50g dessicated coconut
100g cranberries
30g pistachios
100g white chocolate chips or chunks

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 12" x 8" baking tin
2) Put the flour, icing sugar and butter cut into small chunks into a bowl, and either mix with paddle of freestanding mixer, or rub the butter in with your hands, until the mixture resembles a sandy texture.
3) Press the mixture into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 20 minutes, or until going slightly golden at the edges.
4) Prepare the topping by mixing everything together.
5) Once the shortbread is baked, remove from the oven and distribute the topping evenly over the shortbread base.
6) Bake for another 20 minutes until the topping is baked and slightly brown.