On Over-Thinking [cranberry bliss bars]

Sous Chef Lauren and I used to think we’d make pretty good psychologists.  I don’t know where she stands on that old assertion to this day, but I still maintain I wouldn’t be a bad one.

For one thing, I’m a pretty good judge of character.

And for another, oh man, do I over-analyze everything.

craberry bliss bar

Take, for instance, these cranberry bliss bars.  I made these after a former colleague raved about them.  I’ve always eyed them at Starbucks, but I’m a coffee-only girl there.  I’ve had a cake pop once and that’s it.  If I let myself get food it would open the floodgates to hundreds of calories I never needed in my day.

But we all know I don’t hold back in my own kitchen.

Plus every year at Christmas I used to make these cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies that I never really loved, but everybody else raved about, and maybe I would like these more.

And ohmygosh maybe I should bring some to my morning Starbucks team because they’re some of my favorite people, and it’s kind of funny because Starbucks makes these bars, but I bet the homemade version is better.


But then I started over-thinking.  Wait, Starbucks makes these bars.  I wonder if the people who work there even like them? Is everyone sick of them?  Do they really want more of something they can have at any time?

And then I realized.  It’s the holiday season.  The perfect time of year to thank people who do nice things for you on a regular basis.  Shut up and hand over the bars, Jennie.  People will appreciate the gesture, even if they find you mildly odd for baking them something that sits in front of them all day.  They will feel warm and fuzzy because you thought of them.

favorite teacher

And that’s exactly what happened.

To make cranberry bliss bars for a crowd, you will need:

For the bars:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2/3 C brown sugar, unpacked (Whaaaat? I definitely didn’t pay attention to that when I made them)
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 C white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries, chopped

For the topping

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. white chocolate
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In another bowl, whisk sugars, butter, egg whites, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir till combined.  Fold in white chocolate chips and cranberries.  Press mixture into baking pan, packing it tightly with the back of a measuring cup.  Bake 10-14 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

When bars are cooled completely, prepare the topping.  Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Spread frosting on top of bars.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Melt white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Drizzle over bars (I used a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off).

Cut into squares first, then cut each square in half until you have triangles.

3 thoughts on “On Over-Thinking [cranberry bliss bars]

  1. Pingback: Why Christmas was Awesome | a glass of milk

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