Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars / by Carey

I cannot say there are many memorable visits to Starbucks lodged into my brain.  Don't misunderstand - I am a big Starbucks fan -- the coffee, the atmosphere, the solace that usually comes with a visit in my case.  But a visit to Starbucks is a visit to Starbucks.  They all run together just like my days in the land of stay-at-home-mommy-ton (Was that this morning that I took my medicine, or was that yesterday?  Or even the day before?  I truly cannot remember).

But there was that one visit.  I can still see where I was sitting - it was a round table - when I took that bite of Starbucks Cranberry Bliss bar.  It was so good I wished that I hadn't been visiting Starbucks alone that day, because I needed someone else to share in the yumminess.  And that's saying something from this food snob and introvert who craves alone time like drug addicts crave, well, you get the idea.

Right there I googled for a copycat recipe.  Bookmarked it (this was long before the days of Pinterest).  Printed it out when I got home.  The date on the recipe printout is 12/29/09.  Stuck it in my recipe binder for desserts.

And then.  Crickets.

I really have no explanation.  I couldn't wait to try the recipe out, but I just never did.  Fast forward to this past October.  Almost two years later.  One day the urge to bake struck me.  I pulled out this recipe and went to town.  They were... in a word... Incredible.

So I planned to make them again during the Christmas holidays and photograph them for this blog.  And I did... and then I forgot to blog them.

In the famous words of Governor Rick Perry, "Oops."  Without further ado, the most wonderful Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss bars

Carey Pace food photography 2011

This is the recipe I used.  I was surprised to find several different options of copycat recipes out there for these.

I include this photo here of the butter and sugar in my mixer, because, I have found that some people out there don't know about the important of really truly creaming the butter and sugar together.  And this step makes all the difference in the world in the final texture of your product, I've found.  Simply stirring/combining the butter and sugar together isn't good enough.  You need to truly whip them up.  Incorporate that sugar fully, until it's almost dissolved, even though your butter isn't melted.  It takes several minutes.  You'll know when the color and the texture changes.  So I urge you, don't stop mixing too early.

Carey Pace food photography 2011

Here we've added in the rest of the ingredients:  the eggs, the orange extract, the flour, baking powder and ginger.  And of course the cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Carey Pace food photography 2011

It's super thick.  Now is the time to put it in your pan.  I use my half sheet pans with my Silpat linings.  I've talked about my Silpat love before.  Best invention ever.

When I made these the first time, I did one recipe and centered the dough in my pan.  For this time in my photographs, I made a 1.5 recipe so it would fill the entire sheet pan.  I buttered the edges of the sheet pan so the dough wouldn't stick there.  But wow, this made a LOT Of bars!

Carey Pace food photography 2011

Unfortunately, the light disappeared before I was able to get a shot of the finished baked pan of bars.  Just pretend you can see it.

My only issue with this recipe is the frosting proportions.  They are just off.  I want to know who on earth can make just 3 ounces of cream cheese go that far.  I've always doubled the cream cheese and butter and left the rest of the ingredients the same.  So, once everything has cooled (hence my light issues with photographing), spread your frosting and sprinkle more cranberries and chips.  I've never bothered with the white chocolate drizzle, since the top if already so white - it won't show much.  And trust me, it is plenty sweet as it is!

The edges came out somewhat crispy, of course, in order to get the middle all the way cooked.  To make pretty bars, this is what I did.  First, I used my pizza cutter to get nice even straight lines.  I cut about one inch from the edge of all four sides to make nice clean edges for the bars.  Then I made two long cuts parallel to the long edge, so that I now have three long pieces of cake.  Then I cut up my squares from those long bars.  And then I cut my squares into two rectangles.  Lots of pretty triangle bars that are all the same size.

Shawn took most of them to work for his holiday lunch, and I got to eat the edge pieces.  It all worked out.  I kept a few to photograph, of course.

Carey Pace food photography 2011
Carey Pace food photography 2011

To recap, I use this recipe for Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar to create these little culinary masterpieces.