Sunday, December 16, 2012

Visions of Sugar Plums

Today was a full on explosion of butter, sugar, nuts, and chocolate here at Chez Phillips.  We are leaving on Thursday for the East Coast and a family Christmas in Connecticut so I will be delivering tomorrow to friends and colleagues. 
These are Cranberry Bliss Bars---you have probably had something similar at Starbucks, but theirs usually have a wet texture, since they seem like they were frozen, and then defrosted.  My recipe is simple, and a very close clone---I actually like these better! 

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Makes about 40

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange oil or 2 teaspoons orange extract
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 3/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1 3/4 cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate chopped into chunks

1.      Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with a silicone liner, aluminum foil, or parchment paper.  If you are using foil or parchment, coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
2.      To make the bars, in a large bowl, using with an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown and granulated sugars, eggs, and orange oil in a large bowl  until combined.
3.      Add the flour, baking powder, and spices and beat until the flour begins to blend into the batter, 45 seconds to 1 minute. 
4.      Add 3/4 cup of the cranberries and 3/4 cup of the chips, stirring just to blend and being careful not to over mix.
5.      Spread in the prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs adhering to it, 15 to 17 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a rack. 

Creamy Orange-and-White Chocolate Frosting

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup unsalted butter
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange oil or 1 teaspoon orange extract

1.      To make the frosting,  in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, or in a food processor, cream together the cream cheese and the butter in a large bowl until fluffy, or process them in a food processor. 
2.      Add the confectioners’ sugar and orange oil and beat or process until spreading the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Then spread it evenly over the cooled bars.

Garnishes and Drizzles

1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1.      Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberries and white chocolate chips.
2.      In To make the drizzle, in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the chopped white chocolate with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, stirring until smooth. 
3.      Drizzle over the frosting in a decorative pattern.
4.      Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 weeks. 

It's been a long day, I'll be back later in the week with more, until then, enjoy your week, and hug your loved ones close. 

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