11 October 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars just in time for the weekend!

Have you ever noticed that most days multitasking is inevitable? Usually its doing laundry while simultaneously trying to make dinner or something of the like. Rarely, do I get to multitask with things that I love to do. Saturday was a busy day but one that I felt was really fun and productive. You see I ordered 24 pounds of peaches from a co-op that I get groceries from once a month. I honestly had no idea what 24 pounds of peaches looked like so when I signed my name to pick them up in a large and very heavy box I was pretty overwhelmed. Mind you that I rarely like fruit. I know what you are thinking and it is entirely possible for a human to not like fruit. Ergo Me. Its a texture thing mostly but some of the tastes just aren't for me either. However, like the wonderful woman that I am (shameless plug) I buy them for my husband who is a peach cobbler aficionado and just my luck he likes eating them right out of the can.

Let's be honest there are only so many ways that you can eat peaches before they start getting on your nerves. While looking at the box of peaches I kept thinking that of dishes to make and ways to use them in everything that I was going to make in the next week. Then the thought came to me. Rather than buying canned peaches from a big box store for the Hubbs to eat I might as well can them myself. Can I just say I loved it. Really it's cathartic to work really hard on something and be able to see/ use the final product. Canning is hard, hot and time consuming but if you like to do it, its worth it. I have always loved the fact that I get to choose what goes into the food that I prepare. I get to seal in summer freshness to use all year round and I get to do it without chemical preservatives.
One thing that I always do when canning is to consult the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you are a novice at preserving like I am I highly recommend this book. Canning at home can get a little hairy when trying to make sure that you aren't canning a giant bottle of bacteria. This will help to keep you on the straight and narrow for with tried and true tips of the trade. They also have a bunch of great recipes that lend themselves to a hot pack or raw pack canning method. Okay soap box rant over. Canning can be fun. that's the moral here.

When I first started to can the peaches it was pretty warm but as the day went on cooler air started to settle in and I stared to crave hot chocolate and not just any hot chocolate homemade hot chocolate with half and half and Ghiradelli semi- sweet chocolate chips. The more I thought about the hot chocolate the more that I knew that I would need to make something to eat with that hot chocolate. Its the "If you give a mouse a cookie" syndrome, if I get one thing I'll need something to go with it. I was lead to Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks, sweet, creamy with just a hint of tang from the cranberries. It would be the perfect combo to a dark and luscious cup of hot chocolate. Most likely why these babies have been made famous by Starbucks.

I had tried out a few different recipes for the Bliss Bars previously but one of my favorites is from The Girl Who Ate Everything. As my husband says I can never leave a good recipe alone I always have to add my spin on it. I feel like that is the basis of cooking, making something good into something that totally suits your tastes. That being said I have followed The Girl Who Ate Everything's recipe to the letter previously and it was awesome! No matter what you are going to get an awesome end product. I must tell you that I love Christy's recipes and her blog in general she is really creative and super talented, If you have a spare second go over and check her out by clicking here. You can find my version of the recipe below or if you would like a printable version go a head and click here. Obviously, you can make these anytime not just when you are completely overwhelmed by stone fruit and feverish temperatures. What are your favorite ways to multitask? Any time savers that I should know about?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

If you want to download the recipe to print it out click here!

Cranberry Bliss Blondie Layer:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour- maybe a little extra if you are at a high altitude like I am.  
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. (Yes I bake these in a 9 x 13 even though it gives me the heebie jeebies)
2. To prepare the blondie layer: In mixer, melt butter for one minute in the microwave or until melted; add butter and brown sugar to mixer.* Pour the butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat together and add the vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and orange zest; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).
** If you want more cake like consistency for your blondies don’t melt the butter and then cream the butter and sugar together.
3. Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.* Cool completely on a wire rack.
** Note, don’t over bake these babies. If you do you’ll severely regret it so make sure to check them and set a timer. Also because they are in a glass dish they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven, they won’t cook a ton more but just for a note if they are on the cusp of being overdone.
4. Prepare the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Pour the chocolate chips and cream into the bowl of a double broiler and melt until combined. Make sure to stir and keep an eye on it. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate mixture to the cream cheese and beat until blended.
5. Once the blondie’s are cool go ahead and frost!  Sprinkle with chopped cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Let the frosting set or you will have a mess on your hands if you want to eat them quickly The Girl Who Ate Everything suggested to throw them in the fridge. I obviously threw caution to the wind and just slathered myself in them. Cut them into triangles or squares or any shape you want and serve, preferably with a nice hot chocolate. Oh and don’t be afraid to eat them in the morning, because they have cranberries it makes them an acceptable breakfast food, at least that is what I tell myself when I eat three before 10 am.

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Hey y'all I am Sara otherwise known as the Desperately Happy Housewife. When I am not working I am busy crafting, blogging and re-decorating my house. I channel Lucille Ball and Lauren Graham on a daily basis to get me through the "Oh my gosh I just sewed my finger" moments that often happen. I hope you stay a while and get a chance to see what makes me desperately happy.

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