Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Bliss Bars

I'm going to turn 23 in twelve days. Yes, folks, I've been a bona fide, pays-her-own-rent, cleans-her-own-bathroom, buys-her-own-dishes adult for almost five years. Which makes me wonder why I still get just as excited during the holiday season as I did when I was eight years old.

I may not wear that shirt with the sequined Christmas tree on it anymore, but I am that annoying person who changes the office radio station to the one that plays Christmas music two weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm also that person who drags her boyfriend to a remote bavarian-themed mountain tourist village every December just to see it all lit up with Christmas lights. And, in fact, I am that person who squeals (ever so discreetly) when she walks into Starbucks and sees red cups and cranberry bliss bars.

What is it about those bars? I mean... cranberries? Ehh. White chocolate? Ehh. Ginger? You get the idea.  (And in case you were wondering, "ehh" is a technical term. . . This is my blog, and I will make up onomatopoeia as I see fit.) Somehow, these ingredients are delicious when you put them together; throw in some cream cheese frosting, and they're downright irresistible. I started searching for a recipe for these bars months ago, and as soon as I came across Cakespy's version, I knew I need'nt (?!) look any further. Not only is she from Seattle, but also she makes things like birthday cake french toast. I knew this was going to be good.

I'll be honest. These bars don't taste exactly like the Starbucks version, and I'll even admit that I still like the Starbucks version better (although I think this preference is based more upon nostalgia than taste). Nonetheless, these bars are a must-bake for a few reasons:
  1. They have the perfect balance of spice, sweetness, and tartness.
  2. Did I mention the cream cheese frosting?
  3. Seriously... cake-y bars with cream cheese frosting. Who cares what else is in them?

I think I've made my point.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
Adapted from Cakespy

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.

2. Cream butter in a mixer at medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add brown sugar gradually, and continue creaming until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Gradually add to wet ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate.

5. Spread batter in pan and bake from 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

6. For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese in a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat 1 minute more. Gradually add powdered sugar until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency; you may not need all of the suggested amount.

7. After spreading the frosting evenly over the cake base, garnish with dried cranberries immediately. Use a spoon to drizzle the melted white chocolate over the cranberries.

8. Slice in half lengthwise and then into four equal parts widthwise. Slice each rectangle in half diagonally to make 16 triangular bars.

Not to be bossy or anything, but I think you should eat these slightly chilled. Yumm.

(My excessive use of onomatopoeia in this post should tell you something about how much I like these bars and how few synonyms there are for "delicious.")

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