Better than Starbucks… Cranberry Bliss Bars – Kim Style
Okay everyone, after hearing request after request for the recipe – I finally remembered to post it
I’ve been developing my own recipes for decades (wow, did I really just admit that I’m getting old?) and this one is easy. A friend (waving at Becca!) brought me a cranberry bliss bar (I believe these are trademarked) from Starbucks. I LOVED them, and decided to try my hand at duplicating them. The result? Well, not to toot my own horn… too much… But everyone liked mine better. I then had several friends who brought over other knock-off recipes from the internet and we had our own blind taste test – just to make sure that we had a recipe worthy of posting.
And… mine won! (Yes, there was a little Snoopy-dancing on my part.)
Since I posted on Facebook about it, I’ve had hundreds of emails. Yes, I’m giving you the recipe. And yes, we are hoping to do a cookbook one day as well. (That’s why I guard a lot of my prized recipes – hoping one day that this little author will get to do a scrumptious cookbook… with lots of pictures…)
Anyway, I digress. Back to the bars. These are best served as soon as they cool – and within the first couple days. Because the icing is cream cheese based, you don’t want it out of the fridge for too long (unless you have a really COOL house like ours – LOL) and if you put them in the fridge, they lose some of their moisture.
Now, this recipe will make one 9×13 AND one 8×8 pan of bars or one SUPER deep large size jelly roll pan (they rise quite a bit in the oven and then settle down as they cool.)
The key is to do a quick-candifying (I don’t think that’s a real word – but it’s now a Kim word) of the dried cranberries. (If you look at the Starbucks bars, you’ll notice they look almost like candied cranberries rather than just dried. And after looking at their ingredient list, I found my own way to do it.) I used Craisins brand.
So – have fun! And let us know what you think – it’s easy to try at home and super, super yummy. This picture is not all that great, but sorry, this is all that’s left. I’ll have to make more so I can take better pictures.
BETTER THAN STARBUCKS – CRANBERRY BLISS BARS -KIM STYLE
by Kimberley Woodhouse
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter (softened)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract or orange flavoring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
2 cups Craisins dried cranberries
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sunflower oil (I used it – but vegetable oil will suffice if you don’t have it on hand)
zest from one orange (should be at least a tablespoon)
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter softened
8 ounces of cream cheese softened
1 pound of powdered sugar (you can use more or less for your own desired consistency, but I like it very creamy – not stiff – for these bars)
1 and1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (test for your desired taste)
Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
Soak the cranberries in the tablespoon of water for 15 minutes. Stir until most of the liquid is dissolved. Add the sunflower oil, orange zest, and sugar. Stir well, set aside while you make the batter.
Cream the butter until almost white, add the sugars and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the flavorings. Sift the dry ingredients in and mix well until you have a thick, thick batter. Let the batter sit for a few minutes while you put the cranberry mixture into the food processor and pulse for a minute (this step is optional, but we thought it made it “better”). Stir the white chocolate chips and cranberries into the batter. Spread into the prepared (buttered or non-stick sprayed) pans.
Bake the bars for 20 minutes. DO NOT overbake. Cool completely.
Prepare the icing. Cream the butter and cream cheese, add vanilla and lemon juice, then slowly add the powdered sugar until well combined and to the desired thickness. Scrape down the sides and then whip on high speed for at least a minute or two. Spread on the cooled bars.
Top with shaved white chocolate curls, a few cranberries, or drizzle with a cranberry glaze.
Think of them as my Christmas present to you all.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!