Cliché as it may sound coming from a Seattleite, I must confess to feeling a small thrill around this time of year when Starbucks rolls out their holiday spread. Those cute red holiday cups are a harbinger of festive sugar bombs, including gingerbread and eggnog lattes, decorated cookies—but for me, the fondest memories are associated with the cranberry bliss bar.
In general I'm not a huge fan of mass-produced baked goods, but there is just something about this bar. And I'm not the only one: some online sleuthing revealed several odes of undying affection for the treat—as well as a bevy of copycat recipes.
I adapted this from one found on Mr. Breakfast. While they don't taste exactly like the ones at Starbucks, they are pretty excellent in their own right, with an extremely dense, moist cake studded with tart cranberries, spicy ginger and sweet white chocolate, all crowned with a winter wonderland of rich cream cheese frosting and white chocolate drizzle.
- Yield:16 bars
- Ingredients for cake base:
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Lindt)
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
- Ingredients for frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- dash of salt
- Ingredients for garnish:
- 1/3 cup white chocolate (either chips, or coarsely chopped bar chocolate)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
Make the cake. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy; add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Sift together flour, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt and then add to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until fully incorporated. This will be a very thick batter. Fold in the cranberries, chocolate and ginger. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until light golden. Let the cake cool before adding the frosting.
Make the frosting. Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy; add the lemon zest, vanilla, and salt; add the confectioners' sugar bit by bit until the frosting has reached your desired consistency (you may need less than the suggested amount). Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, and scatter the cranberries on top of the frosting immediately.
Make the drizzle. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate; once it is smooth, use a spoon and drizzle across the top of the frosted and cranberry-festooned cake.
Slice the bars immediately after applying the white chocolate drizzle. Slice in half lengthwise, and then slice into four equal parts horizontally. Slice each rectangle in half diagonally, and you will end up with 16 triangle-shaped bars.