I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my wonderful Husband, my family, my home, mt friends, and all of my blogging friends. Here in Illinois, due to the tornadoes, people in Washington, and other small communities, who have lost everything, are grateful just to be alive. That's put everything in perspective. If you can, please donate to the American Red Cross, who is giving vital services to those affected by the tornadoes. Thank you!
I have a "thing" for cranberries, dried or fresh. I put them in my oatmeal, cookies and other baked goods., salads, roasted vegetables drinks, and more. I eat them all year long. In fact I'm making a salad for Thanksgiving with spring greens, Granny Smith, and Gala apples, toasted walnuts. dried cranberries, and Feta cheese with a vinaigrette dressing. I have seen many recipes for the copycat recipe for Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks all across the web, but never made them until, now. I have never had the real thing from a Starbucks, either. I am kind of baking snob that way. Why would I buy some baked goodie from a store or bakery, when I can make them myself? Are you a baking snob, too?
As I ramp up for my holiday baking, I wanted to make the Cranberry Bliss Bars. In case you don't know what they are, they are moist, blondies , studded with dried cranberries, and white chocolate, topped with a pillowy, cream cheese frosting, more dried cranberries and finished with a white chocolate drizzle. Cranberry Heaven right? Also, I used the Calphalon 8x8 pan to make a test batch of the Cranberry sweeties.
Celebrating #chocolateparty 1st Anniversary. Any baker can use new pans, right? Thank you, Roxana! I love all of my new pans. It was like Christmas in November, as I opened the huge box.
Back to the Cranberry Bliss Bars. I found a "cakey" recipe, and a more dense recipe. I went with the more dense recipe, but be careful not to overbake! After the bars are baked, you make a a heavenly cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with more dried cranberries and drizzled with melted white chocolate. I will definitley be baking more of the wonderful bars full of bliss. Make these bars, and decide for yourself.
Cranberry Bliss Bars
Yield: One 8-by-8-inch pan, 8 16, 2x2 squares Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
For the Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, optional (I used 2 tsp orange extract)
For the Frosting and Topping
1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted and divided
1/4 tsp cooking oil
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (whipped or light may be used)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups+ confectioners' sugar (I used about 2 1/4 cups)
1-2 tsp milk, or until desired consistency.
1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed (optionally, roughly dice them if the pieces are larger)
For the Bars - Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds. To the melted butter (allow it to cool slightly so you don't scramble the egg), add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough. Fold in 3/4 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup cranberries, optional orange zest or extract, and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, and center is set and golden or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, or a toothpick comes out clean; Do not over bake. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.
For the Frosting and Topping - In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high power, about 1 minute, reheating in 10-second intervals, or until it can be stirred smooth. Stir in cooking oil. White chocolate is notorious for scorching so melt it very carefully, and slowly, heating in quick bursts, and keep a watchful eye; use a double boiler if that's easier.
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, 2 cups confectioners' sugar , vanilla, and beat until smooth and fluffy. Mixture will seem stiff at first but will loosen and fluff up after 2 to 3 minutes of beating on medium-high; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add milk, if needed, until desired consistency. Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup cranberries over the top of the frosted bars. Drizzle bars with melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds in the microwave if it has set up. Allow bars to set up for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Cranberry Bliss Bars adapted from Averie Cooks