Monday, December 16, 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Have you ever had one of the Cranberry Bliss Bars sold by that really big coffee company with a store on every corner? I usually am not tempted by the treats displayed at coffee shops, but these cranberry bars are a frequent craving. I tried one a few years ago and have been eager to try a copycat recipe ever since (mainly so I did not have to pay $2.50 for a slice). The Christmas season provided a perfect opportunity to finally give these bars a try.

I loved everything about this recipe. It was simple, easy, quick, and the results were fantastic. I think the homemade version might even taste better than the ones sold at the coffee shop. But really, who can resist a chewy, moist white chocolate and cranberry-studded blondie topped with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with chopped dried cranberries, and drizzled with melted white chocolate. Any way you make it, it's bound to taste heavenly!

Unfortunately, my picky almost-four-year-old balked at the thought of even trying one of these ("No Mommy...NOOOO. That's disgusting!"). He's not a big fan of good desserts. He's currently going through a phase where his idea of a gourmet treat is a Dum-Dum lollipop or a box of Nerds.

Oh well. More for the rest of us normal people with taste buds!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Note: For an additional layer of flavor, you can add 1 tablespoon of orange or lemon zest to the frosting.

For the Blondies:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white chocolate chips

For the Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted (I used Baker's)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13" x 9" baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, melt the butter for one minute in the microwave. Stir in brown sugar until well combined. Scrape the butter & sugar into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (the batter will be thick).

Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, taking care not to overbake. Cool completely on a wire rack before proceeding.

To prepare the frosting, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate and beat until blended (if adding the optional citrus zest, throw it in now!). Frost the blondies. Sprinkle with the chopped dried cranberries and drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Store in the refrigerator until ready to slice into bars and serve!

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