Monday, December 17, 2012

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Next weekend my family is hosting a holiday party. Unlike previous years, it will be a cocktail party with heavy appetizers and I came up with the idea of a cookie bar for desserts. All of the dishes are finger foods, so I thought cookies and bars would be excellent. I am going to make my gingerbread cookies, chocolate cookies I made a few weeks ago and then these cranberry bliss bars. I will be sure to share all of the other recipes after the party, but I needed to make sure these bars were worthy of the occasion. The recipe is new and a party is not the time to risk a baking disaster. So my family and some friends are serving as guinea pigs.

I personally think these desserts are a huge success. These are just the most beautiful desserts. The colors are so vibrant and fresh, and the taste is amazing. The soft cookie on the bottom pairs so nicely with the crunchy chocolate on top. The cookies are also a nice departure from some traditional holiday desserts, but are sweet enough for any chocolate lover. I promise.

Cranberry Bliss Bars
recipe from here

Bars:
1 Cup - Butter, Very Soft
1 Cup - Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup - Sugar
3 - Large Eggs
2 Teaspoons - Vanilla Extract
2 Cups - All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon - Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon - Dried Ground Ginger
3/4 Cup - Craisins
1 Cup - Lindt White Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped

Frosting:
4 Ounces - Cream Cheese, Softened
2 Tablespoons - Butter, Softened
3 Cups - Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon - Vanilla Extract
2 Teaspoons or more- milk

Topping:
1/3 Cup - Craisins, Coarsely Chopped
1 Cup - Lindt White Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped
1-2 Tablespoons - Freshly Grated Orange Zest

Glaze:
1 ( 10 Ounce) Bag - White Chocolate Chips
2 Tablespoon - White Crisco

Start by creaming together the butter and sugars.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder and dried ginger and mix just until combined.
Fold in the chopped white chocolate and craisins. Here is the white chocolate I used. It was super easy because it comes in droplets, so chopping was much easier than if the chocolate came in a block.
This picture shows how roughly I chopped the chocolate. The big pieces add a really nice texture.









Spread the batter in a 10x15 cookie pan. It will be thick, but I found a spoon worked best. I laid tin foil in the pan and then sprayed with non-stick spray and it worked great. So don't skip the tin foil! Bake for 20 minutes at 350 until just cooked. Don't overcook.
Once completely cool, beat together the butter and cream cheese for the frosting. Add the vanilla and milk and mix again. Add the powdered sugar and blend. Try and get the frosting as close to the edges as possible. I forgot the milk so mine was a bit thick.
Sprinkle your toppings over the frosting. I'd start with the orange zest next time because it is the lightest and has the most trouble sticking to the frosting. So the wetter the frosting the better. Then do the cranberries and end with the chocolate. Press down slightly to make sure the chocolate pieces are stuck.
See how pretty all the colors look?
To make the glaze, put the white chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler, or a glass boil on top of a pan with simmering water. Stir with a whisk. Once completely melted turn the heat down as low as possible and add the crisco. If the glaze isn't thin enough, keep adding crisco one teaspoon at a time until the desired thickness. Using a fork, drizzle the glaze over the top. I had a bit of difficulty with this step, but you'll get the hang of it after a while.

Let the glaze harden for an hour or overnight. Lift the entire thing out of the pan using the tin foil. Pull the foil away from the sides. By removing the whole thing from the pan before cutting, you preserve the really nice edges. See?
Apparently I'm incapable of eyeballing measurements. You can see how horribly lopsided my lines were. It actually worked out nicely because I was able to try squares and triangles.







The squares are definitely easier to cut and they can be cut a bit smaller, which is great for parties. However, the triangles are really pretty. So if I was making these for a professional event or something, I'd opt for the triangles.
I love the side view. These babies are really so pretty.
 Here are the triangles.
They lay out so nicely. In the future I'd do a better job with frosting to the edge, or I'd trim the edges so you don't see the crispier edges. either way, I think they are beautiful and tasty to boot!

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