Yeh, I know we’ve hit the cranberries a bit hard of late, what with Parfait! and cranberry peanut butter bars and all; but ’tis the season, and these bars are just too darned tasty not to share now, so’s you still have time to get to the market before all craziness breaks out tomorrow.
The original recipe, found (with many thanks to da Google) on topsecretrecipes.com by Todd Wilbur actually calls these Cranberry Bliss Bars after the Starbucks original, but I feel much more comfortable (and Frank, our lawyer, much more relaxed about it all) just calling them Cranberry Happiness – dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, white chocolate (yeh, I am aware that it’s not really chocolate, get over it), lemon cream cheese frosting, a white glaze, and cake – that all sounds like the definition of happiness to me!
Ermmm, also, due to a series of inventory control mis-cues, we have about a BILLION tubs of honey nut cream cheese in our fridge that needed something done with them – so this little reduction was also a thing of joy.
•3/4 cup butter, softened – used 2 sticks
•1-1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
•2 tbsp crystallized ginger, minced
•1-1/2 tsp vanilla
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1-1/2 cup flour
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•3/4 cup dried cranberries, diced
•4 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
•4 ounces cream cheese, softened – as noted above, I used most of a small tub o’ honey nut cream cheese, and my, was it tasty
•3 cups powdered sugar
•4 tsp lemon juice
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
•1/2 cup powdered sugar
•1 tbsp milk
•2 tsp vegetable shortening
Preheat oven to 350º.
Whisk the flour together with the salt and baking powder and set aside.
Cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer, then add the eggs, vanilla, and ginger. Beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Add the diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand and turn the batter into a well-greased 9×13-inch baking pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is light brown on top. Set aside to cool on a rack. I used a glass pan, and next time will probably do a metal sheet, adding a bottom layer of parchment. Just sayin’.
Make frosting by combining softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. I would really recommend you try the honey nut whipped here, it was a nice addition – and – ermmm, if you need some, we still have close to a billion tubs in teh fridge…
When the cake has cooled, spread frosting over the top of cake and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup diced cranberries.
Make the glaze by whisking together the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and shortening. You can drizzle this over cranberries in a sweeping motion with a spoon or knife, or try putting it in a zip topped bag, trim a corner off the bottom, and use it as you would the pastry bag. I did try this – it wasn’t what I would call pretty, but it worked.
Cover the cake and let it chill for at least two hours, then slice as you will.
Apparently, true bliss bars are triangular.
Sliced and served as you like, these are one fine and tasty treat to serve holiday guests, and if a nibble or three doesn’t make you at all happy, well then I think you are just not trying hard enough.