February 10, 2014

a state of bliss

I have a Starbucks card for one reason and one reason only--occasionally, the company will send out an email containing a code for a free drink. I like free things.


While their lattes aren't nearly as amazing as what you'd find at a smaller, more intimate coffee shop, they'll definitely do in a pinch, especially at no cost. What I refuse to do, however, is order their food.

Have you looked in that case of baked goods? Sorry if this seems harsh, but baked bads is more like it. After being completely spoiled by made-from-scratch, small-batch pastries, I can't possibly consider paying for or eating that stuff. I wasn't always such a sweets snob and have tried the cranberry bliss bar on a few occasions, with mixed results. When it was obviously fresh and new, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but sometimes it had clearly been lingering in the case for a good long while and was like cardboard in the mouth.


No, a much better alternative for me is to make my own, and this recipe is fantastic. I found it on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and just tweaked a few things. The bars are soft, sweet, chewy, and just completely enjoyable from the first bite to the last. Keep your money in your pocket the next time you stare at that Starbucks case while you wait to place your (free) order and make your own instead!

Cranberry Happiness Bars (alternatively Crappiness Bars)(maybe not the best name)
Based on this recipe
Makes 12 large bars
Ingredients:
Blondies:
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped or 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Frosting:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar until well-combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.
Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until well-combined then fold in the cranberries and white chocolate.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist (not gooey) crumbs.
For the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Scoop in about half of the melted chocolate and mix until creamy and well-combined.
Spread the frosting onto the cooled bars. Sprinkle with cranberries and drizzle the remaining white chocolate over the top. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set.

26 comments:

Pam said...

Looks so good, definitely not any baked "bads"

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I don't drink coffee regularly so I always just get tea at Starbucks (usually green tea but lately it's been the chocolate chai tea latte) and every now and then I'll try a baked "good" hehe. The cranberry bliss bars are definitely one of the better ones!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Blissfully delicious, I'm sure! Those bars are terrific.

Cheers,

Rosa

Alicia Foodycat said...

This does look good! I am with you on the quality of the baked goods, but I have been tempted by the bliss bars.

Guru Uru said...

I would devour these bars in a second :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Joanne said...

I've made the mistake of ordering food at Starbucks one too many times. I'd much rather bake my own and then bring it with me to enjoy with my latte!

Angie Schneider said...

This will definitely make me happy. These cranberry bars look wonderful, Grace.

Pam said...

Yours looks a million times better than Starbucks! YUM.

Rosita Vargas said...

Estas barras estàn de lujo realmente irresistible,hugs,hugs.

Patricia Bacon said...

As I have for a long time, I continue to enjoy your recipes. I WILL return. Tks for this post as cranberries are a fav of mine.

Carolyn Jung said...

Cranberry Happiness Bars -- the name alone makes me smile. Ah, perfect to make any day something special.

Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts said...

I've never been to a Starbucks, is that weird? Honestly, I have no desire to go there either.... well, unless I had a coupon for a freebie! You bars do look delicous!

Blond Duck said...

I'm so into white chocolate right now.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I've never really looked into their baked bads display. But this looks amazing. Now why can't they serve these here?

Katerina said...

These bars would definitely bring a happiness in my life! Perfect!

Erica said...

I am a huge white chocolate fan! These bars look wonderful, Grace!

Caroline Taylor said...

I love the sound of these, just what I need on a Wednesday!

Marjie said...

Definitely not "Crappiness Bars".

~~louise~~ said...

At first I thought I was going to be the only one to confess to never going to Starbucks. Whew! I'm so relieved to know I am not alone:)

Since we don't have any
"real" bakeries here in central PA, (most baked goods are shipped in from I don't know where:), I have been relying on Amish baked goods but most have not been as good as of lately. (I think too many bakers are using premixed)

Although I am not a good baker, Grace, I have been trying more than ever to hone my skills. You always present such delicious delights that I feel I could actually do. These Cranberry Happiness Bars are a perfect example. I will be saving (and pinning) the recipe. I would try to make them right now because hey, who couldn't use a bit of happiness with the weather forecast we're having but, I was just to lazy to do the pack the store before the storm thing this time so we will be making do.

Thank you so much for sharing, Grace...they look delectable!

Barbara said...

Love these! (think I'll pass on the crappiness bars name though)
Cinnamon in there too...why does that not surprise me? YUM!

Jackie@Syrup And Biscuits said...

"Baked bads". Now why didn't I think of that? Your variation looks anything but bad.

vanillasugarblog said...

I did not care for those bars at Starbucks, they are so sweet. Made them at home with better stuff, and way less sweet.
But LOVE the this crust you put on.

scrambledhenfruit said...

I live out in the "sticks" so trips to Starbucks are few and far between. I have seen the cranberry bars there though, but have never indulged. These look really good!

lisa is cooking said...

I want to go buy some cream cheese so I can make these right now. They'd be a perfect treat for my overactive sweettooth today!

I Wilkerson said...

Your bars are beautiful. Of course there is nothing like homemade--and I think that goes for lattes too! (But I like free stuff too!)

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I agree, the starbucks baked goods case is hardly ever good. This recipe, however looks like a sure winner :)