This soft cake is bursting with fresh ruby red cranberries, thinly sliced pears and crunchy chopped walnuts. You want to use a pear that is more firm and will stand up to baking, rather than a softer one you may just eat out of hand - we used a couple Bosc pears. You can use fresh or frozen cranberries - if you use frozen, don't thaw them out, just toss them into the batter as is. When you get to the point of mixing the fruit and nuts in, the batter will be extremely thick - it was a little tough to get things evenly distributed, but do your best without overworking the mixture.
If you don't care for pears, you could probably use apples instead. We both quite liked the combined flavor of the sweet pears and the tart cranberries though. Cranberries and orange also have an affinity for one another, so the crumb of the cake is given the scent of orange from a good tablespoons worth of orange zest. Since there is only a half cup worth of walnuts in the whole recipe, you don't want to skimp on toasting them - while you would still get that crunch if you don't, the flavor would get lost in these bars I think. Toasting really enhances their nutty flavor, so you can get away with using less like this. If you want to make it more dessert like, add some slightly sweetened whipped cream or do as we did today and add a big ol' scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream with a dash of cinnamon.
Cranberry-Pear Cake Bars