Cranberry Bliss Bars

I can’t remember exactly when I had my first Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar but I do remember thinking (in no particular order): it could become a very expensive habit, sitting out in the air too long would make them go stale quickly, and only having them available during Christmas holidays was not an option…. I mean, what’s a girl to have as a treat with her coffee mid-March? A cake pop?! Pfft! That’s so last fad.  Never to be outfoxed by a baked good, I went searching into the ether and came back with a promising knock-off recipe … which I further knocked off.  Peace and sanity were restored and mah belly was happy.

One recipe makes a generous batch, enough for your cookie tray and a lucky one or two others.  I’ve never tried to double the recipe into a half sheet pan since I think that’d become too unwieldy for my skill level.  If you’re game, send me pics.  I’ll be amazed!  If by some strange happenstance you get a wild hair and make three batches and find you DO have a few left over, they freeze beautifully in a vacuum-sealed bag.  I can’t begin to tell you how fun it is to do a freezer clean out and find these hiding there.

Fear not non-coffee drinkers, cranberry bliss bars go well with a tall glass of milk, a hot mug of tea and, I hear, a nice dram of bourbon.

Onto the rooftops and down the chimneys, one and all (if you can fit after all the goodies)!


(adapted from Top Secret Recipes version of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar by Todd Wilbur)

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp ginger (powdered)
¼ tsp Kosher salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup dried cranberries(I use unsweetened), chopped, divided
6 oz. white chocolate chips

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4-5 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of one orange (no pith)
½ tsp vanilla

CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350F. For a cake-like (more authentic) bar, use a quarter-sheet pan.  For a more cookie-like bar, use a 15×11 jellyroll pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper or butter it well.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Mix in eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  On low speed, gradually add in the flour, scraping down the sides once or twice.  Stir in ¾ of the cup of chopped cranberries and the white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter in the pan, being sure to distribute it evenly to all sides and corners.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until edges are just starting to brown.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.

FROSTING: Combine all of the frosting ingredients in a mixer using the whisk attachment (though a paddle will work) until smooth.  Spread the frosting evenly from side to side, corner to corner.  If you remembered to keep the divided ¼ cup of chopped cranberries, sprinkle them over the frosted bars.

Cut into desired shapes and either serve or store (for up to a week I’ve found) in an airtight container as they do tend to dry out in a cookie tin.

Absolutely Marvelous Caramel Matzoh Crunch

And it is … absolutely marvelous.

Every year when I bake the matzoh crunch, I’m reminded of a fictional account of a near-death experience in a blinding snowstorm with four of five siblings and one Mario-Andretti-Wanna-Be sister-in-law behind the wheel of a rented minivan.  As the story goes, there was a tradition, some years back, when available siblings and MAWB would make a weekend road trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas to a place within driving distance of their homes to sample and pick up beers and other provisions for Christmas.  One of these trips was to Montreal. Continue Reading