Thursday, November 22, 2012

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars

During this holiday season, I needed a high yield dessert recipe for a Christmas potluck. I'd had my fill of pumpkin pie and all things chocolate, so I choose to bake my take on Starbuck's seasonal Cranberry Bliss Bars. These fly off the shelves at the coffee shop each year and mine were a huge hit at my potluck. The distinct flavors and textures of the sweet, crunchy, red cranberries, tangy orange zest, and fragrant yellow crystallized ginger are all tied together by the creamy white chocolate in this fall brownie-like dessert.

Note: buy your crystallized, or candied ginger at an Asian market. At Smith's 2 ounces costs $10.99. I got mine for $3.99 for 10 oz at my nearby Asian market. Do not panic if you can't use it immediately. When stored in an air tight container, crystallized ginger has a 2 year shelf life.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray. I like Baker's Joy because it takes care of the buttering AND the flouring of your dish for you!


Cream your butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.


Add vanilla and minced crystallized ginger. Mix to combine. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.


Slowly add in increments the dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture with the mixer on low speed. Scrape the bowl. Add white chocolate chips and chopped craisins and mix by hand until just combined.


Evenly spread batter into prepared baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes until the edges look like.....

This! Golden brown. Let cool completely before frosting.


While the bars cool, prepare the frosting. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar while gradually adding lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time. Add vanilla extract and orange zest and beat until combined.

The frosting should be thick like this. Set frosting aside while you prepare the white chocolate drizzle.

Place shortening and white chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water.

This is called a double boiler. (It's a good technique to be familiar with, but if you're short on time, melt the chocolate and shortening in the microwave)

Allow to melt slightly on the double boiler, then whisk until smooth. Pour into a Ziploc bag and set aside.

Time to build! Spread frosting evenly on cooled bars.

Sprinkle with chopped craisins.

Snip one corner of the Ziploc bag with the white chocolate drizzle in it and drizzle over bars in a criss cross pattern. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I like to cut mine into triangles. Make 5 vertical slices and 3 horizontal slices. This gives you 24 bars. You can stop here, or do what I do and make a diagonal slice through each bar creating 2 triangles. This gives you 48, three-bite triangle portions.

Aren't the triangles cute? I think so. I also think if you are able to wait a full calendar year between gnoshing on these fall treats you are a superstar. I'll be making these in the spring, summer, and winter as well!

I had to post this. I let my dog sample the batter while I was cleaning up. She approves!

White Chocolate Cranberry Bars 

Recipe adapted from Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars by Todd Wilbur


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T crystallized ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. fine salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cups craisins, chopped
3/4 cups white chocolate chips

4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cups craisins, chopped

White Chocolate Drizzle:
3/4 cups white chocolate chips
2 tsp. shortening


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla extract and crystallized ginger and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture gradually until just combined. Scrape the bowl, incorporating any remaining flour into the batter. Mix white chocolate chips and craisins into batter by hand.

Evenly spread batter into prepared dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown. Let cool completely before frosting.

While bars are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar, adding lemon juice 1 tsp. at a time to reach thick frosting consistency. Add orange zest and vanilla extract and beat. Set aside.

In a double boiler, prepare the white chocolate drizzle. Melt white chocolate chips and shortening, whisking to combine thoroughly. Pour into Ziploc bag and set aside.

Time to build! Spread on top of cooled bars. Sprinkle the 1/4 cups chopped craisins evenly on top of the frosted bars. Make a small snip in one corner of the ziploc bag with the white chocolate drizzle in it. Drizzle over the bars in a criss cross pattern. Refrigerate bars for at least 1 hour before slicing. (or if you're impatient, pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes to let the frosting set.) Makes 24 bars or 48 triangle slices.

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