Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cranberry Bliss Bars (a la Starbucks)

I do love the Cranberry Bliss Bars that they sometimes have at Starbucks. Do you know what the secret ingredient is that gives them that unique taste? It's candied ginger (and you can find it at Trader Joes)! A while back I did a search on the internet to see if I could find anything to replicate the bars. Here is my version that I put together from several different recipes.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

2 sticks of butter, softened (1 cup)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ginger (powdered)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel (can omit)
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries, slightly chopped
2 cups flour
1/2 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely minced
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 - 2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons dried cranberries, minced
1/3 cup white chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray

To make the bars: Beat butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, ginger (powdered), salt, and orange peel. Add to the butter mixture, beating well. Fold in the 1 1/4 cup cranberries, the 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate, and the candied ginger. Spread the thick batter into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. (Watch carefully so not as to over bake.)

To make the frosting: When the bars are cooled, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla. Add the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is blended. Immediately sprinkle with the 2 Tablespoons minced cranberries. Put the 1/3 cup white chocolate into a zip lock bag and microwave on high for 10 seconds. Check and then heat for another 10 seconds, until the chocolate is melted. (Note: keep checking it! I learned the hard way that if you microwave it a bit too long it WILL melt the plastic bar and will burn the chocolate and let me tell you that burnt white chocolate does not smell delightful!) Snip off a little corner of the zip lock bag with a scissors. Then squeeze the white chocolate onto the top of the frosting in a zig zag pattern.

Cut into bars immediately because the white chocolate hardens fast and makes cutting the bars very messy.

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