Happy Wednesday everyone! Who's ready for a mid-week treat? Tis the season for baking, right? Truthfully, this isn't the sort of dessert I'd usually go for. It's got white chocolate and is really sweet. I'm more of a dark chocolate, bittersweet, semi-sweet, watered-down sweet, or salty-sweet kind of girl, but for some reason this called to me with it's festive flecks of red and white, cranberries and white chocolate chips dotted throughout, and made me giddy with holiday cheer. The underneath is a fudgy blondie tasting mostly of cozy brown sugar with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting on top. It is most definitely Christmas party worthy. You are probably familiar with these little guys already. Apparently they are a huge seasonal hit at Starbucks causing the same frenzy the Pumpkin Spice Lattes do in the fall. Although I've not had one from Starbucks, I'm told this is a perfect knockoff. Easy too. I thought they'd be a lot more complex just looking at them, but fear not, even novice bakers could pull this off.
This recipe makes a 8x8 pan which seems small but since this is a rich dessert, a little goes a long way. I cut mine smaller than Starbucks and get 18 wedges. To cut wedges, pull your baked and cooled blondie out of it's pan. This will be easy since you will have lined your baking dish with foil, you smart little thing, you. Now, cut into thirds. Then turn the pan and cut into thirds again so you have 9 squares. Cut each square in half on the diagonal, wiping the knife with a paper towel after each cut so you get clean slices.
Behind me, Giada is making Chinese on TV, and outside there is barely any snow on the ground. I feel weird. I find it hard to even play Christmas music since our little town is usually blanketed in the white stuff by this time yet our forecast keeps predicting sunshine. I've pretty much figured the only way to make it seem like Christmas is to bake. So I baked. As if that is even something I had to clarify. Obviously I baked. I'm presenting a post on Cranberry Bliss Bars. I'm so glad we just worked through all of that. You and me man, we can get through anything together.
Cranberry Bliss Bars - Just Like Starbucks
adapted from Loveveggiesandyoga.com
makes 1 8x8 pan. 18 small bars
For the Bars:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
For the Frosting and Topping:
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (you may need a bit more)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil ( I cut mine to fit nicely in the pan), spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 60 seconds. To the melted butter add brown sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine. Next. add in the egg and whisk vigorously so it doesn't scramble in the warm butter. Add the flour and salt and stir just until combined. Switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon taking care not to over mix or bars will be tough. Fold in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup cranberries and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula.
Bake 20-22 minutes, or until center is set and golden or edges begin to slightly pull away from the sides of the pan, or toothpick come out clean; do not overbake. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high power, about 1 minutes, and stir. If needed, cook at 10-second intervals stirring after each time, until chocolate is melted (white chocolate is notorious for burning, so it is important to melt it slowly).
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate (just eyeball it), 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, and vanilla and stir on low to combine, then turn it up to medium-high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add additional confectioners sugar if you like your frosting stiffer. Frost bars. You might not need all of the icing.
Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup cranberries over the top of the frosted bars. Evenly drizzle bars with the remaining melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds if it has set up. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.