December 30, 2010

Holiday Bliss that Will Last All Year Long

Okay, so who here has tried the Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks? 

If you have, you are probably smiling...but it will fade to a grimace when you realize that they are almost (and in some places already are) GONE for another 11 months or so.

Does anyone else feel cheated?  Perhaps a bit robbed?

Here they bring these amazing little triangles into into our lives.  They are so good that we are BEGGING to pay $2.25 a piece for those tiny little slices of heaven.  Then, it's in with the New Year and out with the Cranberry Bliss Bars. 

Well, I'm not going to just sit back and dream about them for another 11 months.  I am taking action.

This seems to be a pretty common problem, as a dozen or so copycat recipes popped up immediately when I searched for them.  I must confess that I did not read all of them.  I sort of scanned through the majority of them.  More importantly, I read the comments.  The results that other people get say a lot about a recipe.  Of course, there are negative people who will bitch and moan about just about everything and almost as many people who will love whatever they try.  What I was looking for were certain specifics.  A few folks mentioned that they seemed too thick.  Since the recipe told me to use a 9 X 13 pan, I used a large cookie sheet instead.  Others said that they tasted sort of dry.  I actually agreed with that one after I made my first batch, but found that sealing them in a plastic container and in the fridge overnight made the bars PERFECT.  So, I took what I wanted from a couple of different recipes and made one of my own.

So without further ado, I give you my Cranberry Happiness Bars!  (You like that, do you?  Just like the bars themselves, the name is DIFFERENT, BUT THE SAME!)

Cranberry Happiness Bars

Cake Base:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp orange extract

½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Craisins

½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick spray. (The ones with the higher sides work best!) Mix butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, ground ginger, vanilla extract, orange extract, and salt and mix well. Add flour slowly until blended well. Then, fold in the Craisins and white chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in bottom of cookie sheet (Don’t worry about the lumps, it will even out as it bakes) and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until edges are light brown and middle looks as cooked as the rest.

Frosting and Toppings:

4 oz cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp orange extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup chopped Craisins

½ cup melted white chocolate

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange extract, and vanilla extract together. On completely cooled cake base, spread frosting evenly. Sprinkle chopped Craisins over the top. Melt white chocolate (I just did this in the microwave. If the chocolate gets too stiff, add a tsp or so of vegetable oil to loosen it up.) Using a fork, scoop out some white chocolate and sort of toss it until it drizzles all over the top.

Cut them into pieces before the white chocolate sets up on top. If you want to make them look like Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars, cut them into squares and then cut the squares diagonally across to make triangles. They will taste sort of dry the first day. Put them into a plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator. The next day, they will taste almost exactly like they came from Starbucks…and you don’t have to wait for the next holiday season to get them!