Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cranberry Bars Worth the Making!

Okay, this is something that I actually made a couple weeks ago for a cookie exchange. But I think it is well worth the mentioning because they were a hit! It is common knowledge that I frequent Starbucks. But I rarely buy their baked goods, only their coffee. Except in the wintertime, when the Cranberry Bliss Bars pay a visit. Anyone who has taken a bite of one of these knows that it is in fact blissful -- a golden blondie chock full of dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks, topped with a cream cheese frosting, more dried cranberries, and a white chocolate drizzle! Need I say more?

Well this winter, I never got a chance to go around to get one. And when I went to the Starbucks at my local grocery store, the barista informed me that they were gone for the season. Maybe he should've specified that they were only gone at his location and that I could just get it from the Starbucks down the street. But that's okay. No harm done because when it came time for me to decide what to bring to the cookie exchange, I'd found the perfect excuse to make my own cranberry bliss bars. And boy was it worth it! The recipe makes a giant 10x15 sheet of bars. . . enough to share some, eat some, savor some, and allow my 3 year old who apparently loves them as much as me to have them for a snack (and sometimes breakfast) for a week. So here follows the recipe which is a culmination of a couple different recipes I found on the web. Well worth the making!

Homemade Cranberry Bliss Bars
  • 1 c. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp orange extract (if you don't have any you can use vanilla but the flavor won't be the same.
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup craisins
  • 3/4 c. white chocolate chips or chunks


  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp orange extract (or vanilla)
  • 1 tbsp milk


  • 1/3 c. craisins, chopped
  • 1/3 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp. canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a 10x15 sheet pan with parchment paper. Spray paper with nonstick spray

  2. Beat butter and sugar together for the cake base. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla, beating until fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt. Then add to the butter/sugar mixture, beating well. Fold in the cranberries and white chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Spread into pan and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (I baked mine for 23 min) or until light golden.

  3. Remove cake from oven and cool. Remove cake from pan. When cake is cool, mix all frosting ingredients and spread a thin layer over the cake. Immediately sprinkle the chopped cranberries on top. In a double boiler or microwave melt the white chocolate with the canola oil. Then place melted chocolate in decorater bag with small tip (or a sandwich bag and cut a little tip off the corner). Drizzle the white chocolate over the cake. Allow 30 minutes for the white chocolate to set before cutting.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Falling deeper. . .

into my cooking abyss. I really should've made a resolution that I could live with. Maybe I should just resolve to continue to cook as desired and just work out more, he he he. Well for starters, today was Robert's birthday so cooking was unavoidable. Right? He originally requested BBQ spaghetti for his birthday dinner, and an angel food cake (at least that is low fat). For those of you wondering, BBQ spaghetti is basically a homemade BBQ sauce mixed with slow cooked pork and put on top of spaghetti noodles. Unfortunately, I did not have the ingredients on hand for those and wouldn't you know it, when we woke up this morning it was snowing. . . again. So change of plans. New plans: Bourbon chicken, chow mein, and a marble cake with raspberry sauce. Boy, when Robert changes his plans he certainly does get more elaborate! But hey at least we had the ingredients for that, even the bourbon :-) And sides it's got to be a special occassion for me to make a marble cake in the first place. And even more special to make a raspberry sauce. I won't mention the amount of umentionable words I mumbled under my breath while straining the seeds from that stupid raspberry sauce. But in the end, it all turned out great. So Happy Birthday Robert!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Years!

Well I started off this year with a resolution to eat less and become more fit -- completely contradictory to cooking and eating all sorts of randomness. Unfortunately my resolution faltered after a mere few hours. By 12 pm on New Year's Day I was already baking something totally unneccessary and laden with fat and calories. . . and flavor. Lots of flavor! Man is it delicious! Grits pie courtesy of Paula Dean. Now anyone who has ever watched the Paula Dean show on the Food Network knows that all of her recipes are rich and filled with butter. This was no exception. But I figured that since I had just sent Robert out in the morning to get the grits, I might as well get as much as possible out of them right? I really was just very curious as to how grits pie tasted. Well according to everyone in my house, the consensus is that it is very VERY good. For anyone who has ever had chess pie, that is what it reminds me of. Sweet and buttery custard but with a little bit more texture, complimentary of the grits. Also the grits are also not gritty at well, rather smooth and soft. Within 5 hours of having taken the pie out of the oven, half of it was gone. Leila scarfed down her piece and eagerly asked for seconds. We decided to hold out and save the other half for breakfast the next day. . . after all, it's got grits in it :-)