So much better than Starbucks

Have you ever been tempted by Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss bars? I have, and to be honest they were not what I expected or hoped they would be. They looked great, but they didn’t have the flavor impact that I expected.

Today my coworker Amy brought some homemade cranberry bliss bars to work, and I took one because tis the season to eat treats. Hers were SOOOOoo good. The deciding factor was a subtle but distinctive taste of ginger in the bars – candied ginger, I was informed. Yum!!!

So, she told me where she got the recipe (Oregonian’s FoodDay, last year), and I found the recipe on the internet. I urge you to try this recipe… wow. (Amusing side note: I borrowed the office camera to take a pic of these…)

Cranberry Ecstasy Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar
3 e
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup minced dried cranberries
1 1/2 ounces white chocolate (such as Ghirardelli brand) chopped
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger

1 (8-ounce package) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered
sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon grated
lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup minced dried cranberries

1 ounce white chocolate
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper and then grease the paper. To make cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; continue mixing until light. Sift together flour, ground ginger and salt; add to the butter-sugar mixture. Continue mixing until flour is incorporated. Fold in dried cranberries, chocolate and crystallized ginger. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt until well-mixed.

Remove cake from pan and trim off the edges so cake is uniformly flat. Using an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, uniformly spread the frosting onto top of cake. Sprinkle minced dried cranberries on top of frosting and refrigerate for 1 hour. To make drizzle: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate, whisk in powdered sugar and milk until well-mixed. Scrape into a small, sturdy plastic bag; cut a tiny corner of the bag and squeeze to drizzle chocolate decoratively over the entire frosted cake.

To serve, slice the cake lengthwise down the center, making two long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into four equal portions; slice each of these in half diagonally.

Makes 16 bars. (Note: you could easily cut these in half to make 32 bars – they are huge)