Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cranberry bliss bars

A copycat version of a national coffee chain's dessert, these cranberry bliss bars are a soft and chewy frosted dessert that you'll want to double or quadruple! The frosting alone is heavenly bliss.

Cranberry bliss bars seem to be everywhere around me. I attended a cookie swap and retirement party last month, and these bars were at both of the parties. I found out that these bars were a copycat recipe from a certain national coffee chain. Since I don't drink coffee, I hardly ever set foot in the coffee bars and therefore missed the boat on this dessert trend.

I loved these bars so much that I wanted to try making my own at home. I found a few different versions out there, most of which called for ginger. Those of you who know me well are aware that I have a very bad aversion to ginger. As a result, I didn't use a recipe that included ginger. I also made a half batch since my little family of 3 did not need more than 18 bars. If you are hosting a party or need some bars to feed a crowd, double the recipe and bake in a 9"x13" pan (keep the baking time the same).

Originally, I thought that the frosting amount wasn't enough, but after sampling a few bars (OK, more than a few), I actually think that the bar to frosting ratio is just about right. It's about 70% bar to 30% frosting. Feel free to double down on the frosting and just eat that for breakfast though. I'm not here to judge.

My bars baked up a little bit puffy but shrunk down a bit after I frosted them and placed them in the refrigerator to chill. The bar layer is sweet and blondie-like with little bursts of sweetened dried cranberries. And the frosting is obviously awesome enough to eat on its own. I mean helloooo... cream cheese frosting?!

Bake these bars at your next potluck or get-together. I'm certain that these will be a huge hit with all your friends, family and coworkers alike. They will taste just as good as the ones from that coffee store!

Cranberry bliss bars
  • 3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces white baking chocolate, melted (I used white chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Bake the bars: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter with the light brown sugar. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Mix the brown sugar mixture, the egg and vanilla together on medium speed until light and fluffy.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture. Turn mixer to medium and beat until everything just comes together. Turn the mixer off and fold in the cranberries and chocolate by hand.

Press the batter onto the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake. Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until well-blended. Then add in the melted white chocolate.

Spread the frosting on top of the cooled bars and sprinkle with the sweetened dried cranberries. If desired, you can melt additional melted white chocolate and drizzle it on top of the bars for a prettier presentation.

Yield: About 18 (triangular) bars

Source: Slightly adapted from Recipe Girl



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