July 25, 2011

Starbucks Knockoff: Cranberry Bliss Bars

I’m a sucker for almost anything labeled “Limited Edition.”  I’m looking at you, Limited Edition Mint M&Ms.  You, too, Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale.  And same goes for you, Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars.  Why must you only exist during the winter holidays?  You would be the perfect dessert on a summer afternoon.  If only I could dig into your cranberry goodness and cream cheese deliciousness all year ‘round.  Hooray, now I can!

Knockoff recipes for some of our favorite indulgences are nothing new.  I’ve always hesitated to make a knockoff because it usually doesn’t taste as nearly as good as the original.  Disappointment almost always abounds -- but not here, thankfully!  A quick Google search led me to this recipe for Cranberry Bliss Bars from Food.com.  The result?  Absolutely delicious, and truly every bit as tasty as the original from Starbucks.  So pshaw to the limited edition moniker for Cranberry Bliss Bars.  They’re here whenever you crave them!  Huzzah!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the bars:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange extract or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I recommend using both!)
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup white chocolate chips

For the cream cheese frosting:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract

For the drizzled chocolate finish:

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Begin by making the bars: Beat the butter and sugars until light.  Gently blend in eggs and extract(s), taking care not to overbeat eggs.  Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly.  Add the cranberries and chips, stirring just until incorporated.  Spread the thick batter in the prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until light brown at the edges and a toothpick in the center tests clean.  Be careful not to overbake or the bars will be dry.  Let cool completely.

While the bars are cooling, make the frosting: blend the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add  extract and confectioners’ sugar and beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (add 1 teaspoon of milk to thin slightly, if needed).  Spread evenly over cooled bars.

Drizzled chocolate finish: Sprinkle the orange zest and chopped cranberries over the frosted bars.  Next, mix the white chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup.  Microwave 1 minute; stir until melted.  Use a fork or whisk to drizzle the white chocolate diagonally across the bars.

Now for the tough part, allow one hour for the white chocolate to set before cutting.  Starbucks cuts their bars into triangles; for the authentic touch you could do this, too.  I usually dive right in with a knife and fork -- so delectable.  Enjoy and laugh in the face of "limited edition!"

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