Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cranberry Bliss Bars

I actually meant to share this recipe around last Christmas. When my husband had to work last Christmas Eve and he wanted to bring in something for his office, this seemed like a perfect, festive thing to make.  I baked them up, sent him off with (most of) them, and he came back with an empty plate.  A success!  However, I never got around to photographing them so this year, my husband requested them to bring for a coworker's birthday and as a Christmastime treat.  A perfect excuse to finally make, photograph, (and eat) them!

These bars are rich so a little goes a long way.  However, I kept finding myself coming back for more! This was especially surprising because neither my husband nor I are big fans of cream cheese frosting OR white chocolate but we both loved this recipe.  Somehow, it all just works together -- I especially like the dried cranberries in both the frosting and the blondies.

While these were great for holiday baking, I think the colors would be perfect for Valentine's Day.  Maybe that's another excuse for him to bring them in again!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Makes 24-30 bars

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (can add up to 2 tablespoons extra if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (this helps distribute them more evenly throughout the batter)
  • 2 oz. white chocolate chips or white baking chocolate bar, chopped
    Frosting and Topping:
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a microwave-safe dish, melt the butter. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well-combined then fold in the cranberries and white chocolate.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan (I used a spatula to smooth the batter evenly in the pan). Bake for 18-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist (not gooey) crumbs. Don't overbake (I checked mine at 17 minutes and then every 2 minutes after that until done). Let the bars cool completely in the pan (place pan on a wire rack to help cool).
  5. For the frosting, using an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer), beat the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. 
  6. Spread the frosting onto the cooled bars. Sprinkle with cranberries and drizzle the melted white chocolate over the top. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set - these taste best chilled. Cut into triangles or squares to serve.  


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