I have to admit… when it comes to lattes, I’m a sucker for Starbucks. Every time I stand in line waiting for my grande soy latte I look at the baked goods on display and think… “I can totally do better than that!”… and so began last week’s baking challenge. I decided to bake up a batch (or three) of Starbucks‘ classic Cranberry Bliss Bars and their Banana Walnut Bread.
I think in the end I did really well… the bars ended up with a bit of a thicker brownie crust than I would have liked – but I now know what I’ll do next time… and believe me, there will be a next time. I can understand why these are such a hit in the coffee shops around the holidays – they look so festive when assembled – and taste as good as they look!
You have to be a little proactive with this recipe… the frosting calls for softened cream cheese – so be sure to take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (ditto for some of the butter). And… you have to be patient… things need to cool before you can continue to assemble, but it really is worth the time and effort. I promise… after all, if I can be patient enough to do this, you can too!
Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 c. butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
2 tsp orange extract
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c. dried cranberries
3/4 c. white chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Prepare a 9×13 rectangular pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Allow the melted butter to cool slightly. In a large glass bowl and with your electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and sugars for 3 – 5 minutes until light. Gently blend in the eggs (1 at a time) and orange extract with the mixer at low speed. Add the flour, baking powder and ginger, just incorporating. Add the cranberries and chips – folding in with a wooden spoon.
Spread the batter into the pan (it’ll be thick, that’s ok). Bake until the skewer test comes out clean – my oven took about 45 minutes – but I started checking @ 29 minutes… since I didn’t want to over bake and dry out the brownies.
Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
While they are cooling start on your frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3.3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp orange extract
3 tbsp half & half (or milk – whatever you have on hand)
Add your paddle attachment to your kitchenaid and blend the cream cheese and the butter until fluffy (about 3 minutes @ speed 4).
Add the orange extract and the powdered sugar and beat until you get that fluffy and spreadable frosting – adding the half & half a tbsp at a time; use your judgement in adding the liquid… it’ll give you that looseness you need to create a spreadable frosting.
Spread the frosting over the cooled brownie bass.
Now for the fun… garnish these babies :0)
The Festive Garnish
1/2 c. dried cranberries, roughly chopped
zest of 1 orange
1/3 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
Zest your orange and roughly chop your cranberries. Sprinkle them both over the frosted base.
Mix the white chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water. Allow the chocolate to melt – stir as needed.
Using either a whisk or a fork, drizzle the melted chocolate over the bars. Allow the white chocolate to set for one hour before you cut them. I wanted the “traditional Starbucks triangles“, so I cut the base in 3 columns and then 4 rows and then cut each of those squares in half diagonally to create the triangles.
Simply beautiful and really impressive.
Next time: I’ll be using a 10×15 rectangular pan for a thinner brownie base… and I’m also going to exchange the orange extract for vanilla and swap out the orange rind for crystallized ginger… just to twist it up a little more.
Here’s to the beginning of the holiday season… cheers!