Pure Temptation in an 8 x 8 pan

 Well, I’d said I was participating in 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies, but after making my absolute favorite cookie, the hermit, I needed to take a few weeks off baking so I don’t blow up like a startled pufferfish J.

Seeing the first few week entries in the blog hop I was getting concerned. I only have so many favored cookie recipes and they were starting to show up before I baked and blogged about them.  I thought about publishing my list – a sort of blogosphere dibs – neener, neener, neener, I dibbed shortbread on week 5.  But, I decided that was more childish than the person I like to be.  Besides, blogging is about my experience with a recipe and if there are 15 others of the same, so be it.  Once I got past my hissy hurdle I considered a list for me would be useful. I’ll have some plan of which cookies/candies to write about when. For instance, since I’m pawning them off, generously sharing the delicious treats with neighbors, I won’t do Christmas decorated cookies until December.

I dragged out favored cookbooks, bunches of Americas Test Kitchen (they’re by year), Martha, Julia, Jacques and a few specifically for tea time that would be heavy on cookies and browsed through them.  The notes also give me shopping lists, a smart move on my part as might otherwise hit a “rainy great baking day” and not have all the ingredients on hand.

Decided this week’s cookie will be from Boston Tea Parties, recipes from the Fine Arts Museum (side note I started collecting cookbooks when I was in Junior High).  It’s a fun little cookbook – instead of pictures of food you get pictures of museum tea sets, paintings about tea and so forth. It’s copyright ’87. Some of you may have read my food nazi post where I discussed that I was a vegetarian and healthy whole grains only kinda gal for 15 years, during which time my extended family was not enamored of my cooking (understatement).  Some recipes in this cookbook reminded me of those days –I may have a taste for such concoctions as carrot drops (only cooks for 10 minutes so the grated carrot probably still tastes like, well, grated carrot), whole wheat drops (what chocolate loving kid won’t jump for joy when presented with these?) and my favorite, hard boiled egg cookies (yep, cut up some hard boiled yolks and toss them in).  I chortled out loud thinking of the strongly negative reaction I’d get showing up at my brother’s for the holiday with a box of only these. It would be like showing up with stockings of coal and nothing else.


But, I LOVE cranberries. Tart homemade cranberry chutney from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, cranberry tea bread from the OceanSpray wrapper, cranberries in stuffing, in pies, in scones, dried cranberries – it’s all good.  And, this book had a recipe for Cranberry Spice Squares. Love spice cookies, love cranberries, however I remained cautious in thinking anyone but me may like these cookies given the book’s other inclusions.


I’m an Irish soda bread kinda gal – you know, flour, soda – toss it in the oven and if you don’t eat it in the next few hours it makes a great doorstop. My sister referred to it in our Ireland trip as akin to eating sawdust. So, I know baking soda has a rather distinct taste.  These cookies call for soda – I considered substituting it but the references I found said 3 times as much baking powder for baking soda and I knew that would throw the flavor off – I decided to bake them as instructed.


The long and short of it?  These things are GOOD! They’re better than good; they’re one of my new favorite spice cake recipes. Took every ounce of my willpower to not devour at least half of it warm from the oven.  Even now, the day after at room temp, I have to carefully allot myself a certain amount and wrap it up out of sight. I could just finish the darn thing for dinner. It calls to me – the marvelous heady spice (I added ¾ tsp allspice to the recipe), the perfectly tender and moist crumb, the delectable cranberries. It’s my ideal tea cake and it’s one I can share with my family – sans disdain and disappointment.

You will notice I’m calling it a tea cake. The book called it squares and listed it as a cookie.  I’d been imaging something much denser and, well, cookie like. This is a scrumptious tea cake cooked in an 8 X 8 pan that can be cut into squares. The book offers a recipe for cream cheese frosting (see recipes above) to go with it; I opted out of that one. For a dinner dessert try it, for a brunch/breakfast cake – skip it.  If you too don’t want to blow up like a pufferfish, be sure to have a few folks on hand to help you devour it. With or without assistance, it won’t be around long.

This post is participating in the following linky parties noted below.

21 comments on “Pure Temptation in an 8 x 8 pan

  1. Sue says:

    I had to laugh at your introduction to this post. I kind of feel the same way when I see that someone has beat me to the punch with a certain recipe:) Actually though, each blog has its own “audience” so it works out.

    These Cranberry Spice Squares sound delicious!

  2. Shannon says:

    I wouldn’t worry about baking the same thing as some one else, I resolved to not look before I choose a recipe. And you can always add your own twist to a recipe anyway. these look good, I love cranberries in cakes and cookies.

  3. Brenda says:

    What an awesome post! I was laughing out loud, especially with your decription of some of the recipes in your cookbook (carrot drops? hard boiled egg cookies?). Love it! I’m so glad you joined Cookbook Sundays so I could “discover” your blog. I’m looking forward to having a look around. Now these cranberry spice squares sound wonderful, they don’t seem to fit in with the other choices, lol. Thank you so much for participating in Cookbook Sundays and I hope to see you again!

    • Maggie says:

      Brenda – I know – I was staring at that recipe going, ok, raw grated carrot inside a cold/room temp cookie dough that cooks for 10 minutes – it’s still going to be raw grated carrot. Seems rather cruel to call it a cookie and get folks hopes up as they bite in 🙂 And nice chunks of hard boiled egg yolk within a cookie? No Mr Bill No! I wondered if the folks putting together the book from their members recipes had the same thought but perhaps these, um, overboard healthy cookie fantatics were their biggest donors

  4. Comfy Cook says:

    This looks like a fabulous recipe. Cranberries is like a secret ingredient, giving life to otherwise nice recipes. I am thinking about baking this and sending it to the soldiers with Operation Baking Gals. How could they resist?

    Thanks for linking this to My Meatless Mondays.

    • Maggie says:

      How do you pack these things for shipping? I’d guess you wouldn’t cut into it at all. Do you have a post on your packing technique? (If so, please put it in your reply so anyone here can link on over to it).

      This is so nice of you to do.

  5. Lisa says:

    Oh yum, this sounds packed with spice which is exactly what I like. Plus, the use of cranberries makes it so ideal for the holidays. I’m participating in the 12 Weeks group too and to ward against an overflow of goodies I’ve been making especially small batches of the recipe (sometimes only a dozen or less). It’s worked for me.

  6. I’m afraid I’ve been eating lots of things lately that make me blow up like a pufferfish. lol I’d love to give this one a try, especially with the frosting.

    • Maggie says:

      You know Barbara, I was thinking that frosting probably comes out a lovely shade of pink – and I so prefer cream cheese frosting over buttercreams – it might be pretty good.

  7. Christy says:

    Thankfully I have a boatload of children who eat up any sugary/cookie/bar type food that I make or I would be more like a sumo wrestler! We would totally go for the cranberry cream cheese frosting – it just sounds so delicious! And – well I was once in a Christmas cookie exchange and one lady brought “healthy” cookies full of shredded carrots and who knows what . Blech. even worse because she got a dozen of my amazing thumbdrop cookies! Thanks for sharing this with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  8. Maggie says:

    Oh Christy – your challenge is probably keeping cookies in the house. I know how that goes, I grew up as one in a boatload of kids.

  9. Cristi says:

    Looks delicious! I’d love for you to stop by What’s Cooking Wednesday each week to share some of your recipes!


  10. Lisa says:

    Sounds delicious! I love cranberries in the fall! And the frosting…mmmm!

  11. Spice cake with cranberries – sounds like a winner 🙂

  12. Kristi says:

    I would love it if you’d come on over and link this up to Foodie Friday.


    ~ The Speckled Dog

  13. Melodie says:

    What a beautiful post. Belated thanks for posting it to Vegetarian Foodie Fridays! I hope to see you again!

  14. cheerful says:

    great post, thanks for sharing it with us and most of all, it looks so yummy….:)

  15. Jerri says:

    Sounds like a really great recipe! Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites! Hope to see you again this week!

  16. Kathleen Herzig says:

    Look delicious. I MUST bake this!!!!

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