Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bars


            I have many recipes on my To Do list, but this one has been there for years.  Cookin’Diva posted the original recipe on, and although it was good as posted, I have made a few tweaks to cut down on the sweetness and the time involved.  I made it for a casual dinner with friends at our house, but the recipe made enough to take the next night for dinner with another family.  Both families gave it rave reviews.  Copycat recipes are some of my favorites, because I like dining out as much as the next person, but I hate not knowing what ingredients are in my food.  That is what keeps me testing or creating new versions of take-out or dine-out recipes, especially when the item is a seasonal one.  Sure, pumpkin flavored shakes and pies are traditionally only served in the fall, but that does not mean I only crave them in October, so I experiment with pumpkin or other flavors all year round.  My husband’s craving for a certain rib-shaped, meat-like, drive-thru sandwich do not just happen one week out of the year either, but between you and me, I have my limits. 
                Today we are only raising the bar with these copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks.  A combination of white chocolate, cranberry, and orange makes them refreshing enough to transcend the holiday season.  They have a texture somewhere between a cake and a cookie, and are soft even when refrigerated, which makes them a great recipe for making a day ahead.  These bars are beautiful, citrusy, and sweet.  Just as perfect for a rainy spring day as they are the holidays.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 cup butter (softened)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon orange extract (or use all vanilla)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used both pomegranate and orange flavored Craisins)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract (or vanilla)
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 tablespoons orange zest

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350° (325° for a glass or dark pan).  Prepare pan (10x15, 11x17, or 9x13) by lining it with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray.  In mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and extracts, beating slowly, and just until the eggs are combined.  Add flour, baking powder, and ginger, beating gently, and then add the cranberries and chips, stirring by hand, just until incorporated.  Batter will be thick.  Spread into prepared pan.  For 10x15 and 11x17 inch pans bake for 20-24 minutes.  For 9x13 pan bake for 26-28 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Remove bars when light brown at the edges and a toothpick tests clean.  Cool completely on baking rack.  When pan is completely cool, make three cuts lengthwise into four rows, and width-wise into five rows to form 20 large squares.  Now cut each square diagonally into two triangles.  FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add orange extract and powdered sugar; beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (add 1 teaspoon of milk, if needed).  Spread frosting over each bar.  Sprinkle orange zest and chopped cranberries over frosted bars.  You can save time by frosting before cutting, but they do not cut cleanly due to the cranberries.  Store covered in the refrigerator. 

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TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License