I’m OCD about some of the oddest things. I wash my hands about 15 times day, most certainly as soon as I walk in any building, mi casa included. It seems to be getting worse the older I get. I color coordinate my closet, even aligning pants and skirts by length. I color coordinate my kitchenware also and keep my coffee mugs and espresso makers lined to annoying perfection, much like the possessive husband in ‘Sleeping With the Enemy.’ Creepo, I know, but I like certain things in a very particular order. It shouldn’t then be a complete surprise that my OCD spills over into my food obsessions. Not as concentrated as my personal living space and daily idiosyncrasies, but still a bit over the top.
When I find something I like, I start craving it and develop this intense love/hate relationship. It’s happened with eggs, truffle salt, green tea ice cream, Manchego cheese and a few others. There is one food though that I desperately want to eradicate from the existence of my knowledge and taste buds. I speak of Starbucks’s cranberry bliss bar. You know the very pretty triangle shaped cookie they dish out every Christmas? Yeah, that one. I’m obsessed. Interestingly enough, controlled obsession, but obsession no less.
Look at these beauties! I was going to write a lovely, Christmas-themed story in this post, but after I destroyed 8 bars (I shared half the batch with a baking friend who’s never had them), I felt incredibly guilty and quite repulsed at the thought of my unforgivable gluttony. And so, I felt a the spirit of gloss post wasn’t appropriate. Especially when so many are starving and can barely afford too look at Starbucks.
But, I do want to share how this came about real quick. A few years ago, my friend Christina and I were having a serious conversation about all the delectables out there during this festive season. I mentioned these bars, which I’m mildly obsessed with. Oh, yes, I’ve said that. Being the sweetheart she is, she baked some and gave me about 10 slices. I ate those in 3 days.
Since then, I’ve craved them, been wanting to make them for myself, but knew the danger that would ensue if I had a stash at arms reach. I did the right thing and never looked at Chris’s post or even entertained the thought of buying some at Starbucks. Oh, because you do know that they now sell them in a box.
Time changes things. In this case, I’m back at home where goodies I have no business enjoying, are accessible at the most inopportune times. And that alters my discipline. So, the damage has been done. I finally did the deed and baked the bars for myself. I went back to Chris’s recipe, compared them to the “secret” Starbucks one and modified it to my liking. I love ginger. Specifically crystalized ginger, which I used in my recipe. It gives it a beautiful bite. I also used two instead of three eggs to make them softer and chewier.
And instead of a pretty icing drizzle which most recipes and images you’ll see on the Web have on them, I used white chocolate chip morsels. I was being a bit playful and didn’t want to get too fancy.
I am making another batch this weekend to enjoy on Christmas. I’ll take my time with those and prettify them, omitting the morsels on top. And, maybe I’ll add them in the batter instead. Who knows. For now, I’m just a bit annoyed I ate them all the day I photographed them and still the craving hasn’t passed.
Good thing I’ve been working out twice a day this past month. I did the math per Starbucks’ nutritional value and if right, I consumed 2,300 calories, 90g carb, 65g fat and who knows how much sugar that day. At least I spread out the indulgence and had even every few hours.
From me to you, enjoy a lovely bliss bar. Way, way better than Starbucks. I promise. Make them and see!
Merry Christmas, lovely friends.
CRANBERRY BLISS BARS
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ c. flour
- 1 ¼ c. brown sugar
- 2 eggs (3 for a more cakey bar)
- ¼ cup minced dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped white chocolate
- 2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ c. powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 tbsp. minced dried cranberries
- 1/3 c. white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, ginger, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs blending well after reach then mix in the vanilla. Fold in flour mixture until well incorporated. Spread batter into a 9x13” pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and center is set. Allow to cool completely, about one hour.
While the bar is cooling, mix cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Spread over the cooled bar and garnish with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.