Pixelated Crumb

chocolate cranberry bars

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chocolate cranberry bars on a plate

When my daughter was born 9 1/2 years ago, I thought my blogging days were over. To be honest, there were times I thought I would never eat an entire meal at the same time as my husband again, especially one where we both had full use of our hands and no wailing in the background. Luckily neither one of those turned out to be true.

While meals were difficult for a while, eventually our beautiful screaming banshee of a baby got older and stopped crying ALL OF THE TIME. And I got a few blog posts in, even in the earlier days. But the rest of life took over and there were always so many things to do. But that baby isn’t a baby anymore. She’s a nine-year-old who has developed quite an interest in baking and maybe even blogging.

Chopped crnberries in a bowl with a bag of chocolate chips behind

chopped cranberries and chocolate chips in a bowl with white sugar sprinkled on top

A child's hand mixing cranberries, chocolate chips, sugar, and cinnamon.

So when she asked last weekend if we could make something for Pixelated Crumb, we sat down with a bunch of cookbooks. We wanted something delicious—of course—that would be good for Thanksgiving and would be a good recipe for both kids and adults. I remembered these chocolate cranberry bars that I made a long, long time ago and showed the recipe to Mel. She was game, so we got some cranberries and went to work.

We made a few tweaks to the recipe. It calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I always use Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips. If you haven’t tried them, I highly recommend you to do so. There’s also no salt in the recipe, so we added some into the base to help accentuate the flavors. Mel and I worked together from start to finish—making the bars, setting up for pictures, taking pictures along the way, and of course eating them.

brown sugar and oat mixture spread into baking pan across the bottoms and up the sides

Baked Chocolate Cranberry Bars in the pan fresh out of the oven

It's a great recipe for kids to help with. They’ll enjoy getting out the chocolate chips, sorting cranberries, measuring, and mixing. The beautiful, vibrant red hue of the bars makes them suitable for holiday parties, but they’re so easy to make and store that they’re also perfect for a night in and sharing with family, taking to a potluck, or eating all on your own (we won’t judge). The contrast of the tart cranberries with the rich chocolate wakes up the tastebuds with a burst and pairs perfectly with the soft brown sugary oatmeal cookie-like base. We loved them, and hope you will too.

Chocolate Cranberry Bars sliced and on a plate

Chocolate Cranberry Bars

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

This tart but sweet dessert bar is great for Thanksgiving. With chocolate and cranberries it creates a wonderful dessert. It's also a fun recipe to do with kids if you have them, but also good to do yourself.

-Mel, age 9

We recommend using Ghirardelli bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips--they're far and away our favorite chocolate chips for all baking projects. This recipe uses 2 cups of cranberries, which is a little less than the typical 12 oz bag you'll find in the store. We haven't tried this in a 13x9 pan, but I think it could be done. I'd use the whole bag of cranberries, add some extra chocolate chips and maybe up the sugar just a little.


2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup chocolate chips, I prefer bittersweet

100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

180 g (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

213 g (1 cup) brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

1 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Grease a 7x11 or a 9x9 pan. Optional: line with a strip of parchment paper to be able to lift the bars out before cutting.
  2. Whirl cranberries in a food processor or blender for a minute or so, until well chopped. In a medium bowl, combine cranberries, chocolate chips, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Slowly add eggs to melted butter and combine. Add butter mixture to oat mixture and mix just until combined. Press the oat mixture across the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Spread cranberry mixture over the top.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes. Edges of the oat crust will be golden brown. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean (other than some melted chocolate). Let cool completely before cutting.