Cranberry Bliss

I haven’t written in forever! Sorry about that.

The good news is, I’m making it up to you. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this one- it’s not a science post but a recipe!

Anyone remember Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks? Here on the left coast (or at least my corner of it), they’re not selling them anymore- all our Starbucks stores now have bakery items from another bakery, so no more classic coffee cake, reduced fat blueberry coffee cake, cinnamon scones, chonga bagels… staples of my childhood, all of them. But there is none I loved more than Cranberry Bliss Bars.

Alas, even if they were still being sold, I could not eat them. That gingerbread crust is full of wheat, after all! What’s a nostalgic, former-Starbucks employee to do? Up until now, cry myself to sleep. But no longer, because an old friend posted the recipe on facebook and I knew I had to make it. So I converted it to gluten free and now I am sharing it with you, all three of my loyal blog readers! Behold:

cranberry bliss bars

Somebody call a code, because I’ve died and gone to heaven

Ok, the picture is a bit underwhelming. Don’t judge unless you’ve tried to take good pictures of food inside on a rainy day. Also, I’m not very good at getting even coverage of the topping cranberries.

BUT. You should still try this recipe because Cranberry Bliss Bars. That is all the reason you need. Does this recipe taste exactly like the original? To be honest, it’s been so long, I’m not sure. But that unique flavor combination: white chocolate + cranberry + gingerbread is intact. Plus, this recipe is made with butter and eggs and real sugar- the original was probably made with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Score one for these.

CRANBERRY BLISS BARS (GLUTEN FREE)

Adapted from this recipe by Kasey Buick. “Cranberry Bliss Bars” may or may not be trademark and copyright Starbucks, oh my gosh please don’t sue me I have no money.

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened salted butter *
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 6 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries

Cookie Instructions

  • Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between, then add ginger and vanilla extract. Scrape down bowl if necessary.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together both flours, potato starch, and xanthan gum.
  • Using a half cup-ful or so at a time, add flour mix to the creamed butter mix. Mix on low between each addition to keep too much flour from flying out of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.
  • Add cranberries and white chocolate, then spread the batter out in a well-greased 9×13 pan or casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until it gets nice and brown around the edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened (eyeball it) *
  • 2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/3 cup diced cranberries

Frosting Instructions

  • Cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. This is probably best done in a stand mixer.
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until you have a nice consistency. This should be thinner than cake frosting but not exactly liquid.
  • Taste test because it’s yummy, and to make sure it’s sweet enough. I cut down on the amount of sugar and bumped up the amount of cream cheese from the original recipe because I don’t like my frosting quite as sweet.
  • Spread over the cooled cookie and sprinkle with the cranberries. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve!
*Here’s a neat tip: if you want to soften butter or cream cheese quicker, put them on the oven rack and turn the oven light on. They soften up pretty fast and no worry of melting in the microwave! Just remember to take it out before you preheat the oven…

Enjoy!

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Magical Mint Brownie Cookies

Like all good ideas, this one wasn’t mine.

(Seriously, I can’t take any credit for it at all.)

Once a month the finest, or at least rowdiest, minds in my town get together for a night of coffee drinking, binge eating, and music listening. We call it The Monthly Grind, and it’s a spectacular of local musicians and homemade desserts- so it’s right up my alley. Bring a dessert  for the contest and get in free (note: not actually a good deal since tickets are $5). Typically, it’s not themed but last spring, we had a 60’s music themed Grind complete with hippie costumes and a Sing-Like-Bob-Dylan contest.

“Why don’t you make brownies,” Lee scoffed. “But like, with mint leaves so it looks like pot.”

And thus the Magical Mint Brownie Cookies were born. When they announced the winners, they called me up to the stage to accept my first place prize and caught off guard I muttered something I hope nobody heard about brown rice being awesome, but in hindsight I should of said, “yeah, it wasn’t my idea.”

That’s not going to stop me from taking credit for it from here on out.

Without further ado-

————-

Sarah’s Magical Mint Brownies which were totally invented by Sarah

(© Sarah, 2012)

-1/2 cup brown rice flour

-1/4 cup cornstarch*

-1/4 tsp xanthan gum

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-8 0z semisweet chocolate chips

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup salted butter

-2 eggs

-2 tsp vanilla

-1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

-2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Melt semisweet chocolate chips in a small saucepan while you cream butter and brown sugar together. Add the melted chocolate, eggs, and vanilla to the creamed butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients 1/4 cup at a time, mixing in between, then add the mint leaves and the milk chocolate chips and stir by hand. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet and bake 12-14 minutes at 350F. Cool at least 5 minutes before gobbling up like a chocolate crazed lunatic.

*The original recipe calls for cornstarch, but starches are pretty much interchangeable. Use tapioca or potato starch instead if that’s what you have. They all taste the same.

(Brownie Cookies adapted from “Double Chocolate Chip Cookies”, from Elizabeth Barbone’s Easy Gluten-Free Baking- I told you it wasn’t my idea at all)