December 20, 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars



For this year's cookie exchange, I made cranberry bliss bars.  Earlier this holiday season, I tried a cranberry bliss bar from Starbucks; after trying one, I knew I had to learn to make these festive treats!  They are sweet, rich, and just pretty.

The combination of cranberries, creamy white chocolate, and a chewy blondie makes for one blissful treat.  Since I needed to make six dozen of cookies for the cookie exchange, making a double batch of bar cookies sounded much easier than whipping out the cookie cutters.  (Sorry, gingerbread men and ladies.)

White chocolate makes three appearances in this bar through the base, the frosting, and as a drizzle.  The base is a white chocolate and cranberry studded blondie.  Once the blondie cools, it is topped with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, and more cranberries are sprinkled on the frosting.  Oh, and then more white chocolate is drizzled over the top, which adds a nice crunch.

Truth be told, I prefer this version over Starbucks' cranberry bliss bar.  The Starbucks version is more cake-like, and this version is more chewy and dense.  This frosting seems to have more white chocolate flavor, and the Starbucks frosting, albeit yummy, tasted more like standard cream cheese frosting--not that there is anything wrong with that, of course.

These are often sliced into triangles, and it adds to the seasonal nature of the cookie because it makes them look like a snow-covered Christmas tree with red ornaments.  The cranberry white chocolate blend is a great contrast to the other holiday flavors of peppermint, gingerbread, and spice.  Additionally, there is some fruit in this, so it counts as a quasi-fruit serving.  Right?  Right. :)

Bring some bliss to your Christmas cookie platters with these cranberry bliss bars!  Happy Baking!


Cranberry Bliss Bars
Yields 3 dozen

Ingredients:
For the bars:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

For the frosting:
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
For the bars:
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and grease the sides with butter.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter until melted.  (In my microwave, it took about a minute for the butter to melt.)  Then, add the brown sugar and mix until completely incorporated.  Set aside to cool.

While the butter cools, in a medium size bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Once the bowl with the butter has cooled, whisk in the eggs with the vanilla.  With a hand mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Then, add the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the baking pan and press it into an even layer.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow the bars to cool completely.

For the frosting:
Add the white chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second increments at 50% power, stirring in between each increment.  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, set it aside to cool for about five minutes.  Add the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until combined.  Then, add in half of the melted white chocolate.

Spread the frosting in an even layer over the bars using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle the cranberries over the frosting and drizzle the bars with the remaining white chocolate (if needed, you can microwave briefly).  Allow the frosting to set for a few hours before cutting for serving.

SourceTracey's Culinary AdventuresThe Girl Who Ate Everything, and Taste of Home

8 comments:

  1. I can see why they are called cranberry BLISS bars. They look delicious!

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday break.

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  2. Aptly named. I would definitely be quite blissful with a batch of these in my cookie jar. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

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  3. Wow, these sound good. And so perfect for the Holidays. Have a wonderful Holiday.

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  4. I would definitely be in bliss with one bite! Have a great holiday!

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  5. What gorgeous festive bars :D

    Happy Holidays!
    CCU

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  6. Ooooh! What a great recipe. I definitely have my eye on these every time I walk into Starbucks.Yum.

    Can't wait to see what you cook up for the 31 day challenge in January! Only one more day :-)

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  7. OMG - These look dangerous but in a good way - Happy New Year :)

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  8. Love this! I have a fresh bag of cranberries and this just might make it to the office on Monday.

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