Archive for December, 2010

Basically Blissful

December 31, 2010

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

A few years ago Cranberry Bliss bars were being discussed on various blogs. I was intrigued, but not enough to make a special trip to try one at my local Starbucks. Since I don’t drink coffee I rarely go to Starbucks. When I meet friends for “coffee” they usually prefer our local coffee shop and so here we are several years later and I still haven’t had one. Recently I found myself at a Starbucks and I was pleasantly surprised to find out they still make these bars and I had to have one. I can certainly understand why people wait all year long for these seasonal treats to make an appearance! I ate mine very slowly and thoughtfully hoping I’d be able to make them myself.

Mine are a little thicker than Starbucks’ but that’s okay with me. If I make them again I will put some oil or shortening in with the white chocolate chips so that when I cut the bars the white chocolate won’t shatter. We loved these bars. My husband thinks they’re “awesome”. I can’t remember the adjectives my daughter used, but she made it clear she liked them a lot.

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

1 1/2 cups ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
1 bag white chocolate chips (divided use)
1 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (divided use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined.

Fold in the diced ginger, half of the white chocolate chips, and 1/2 c. dried cranberries, and turn the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely. Frost with the frosting, sprinkle with more chopped cranberries and drizzle with melted white chocolate as indicated below.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese softened
2.5 T. butter softened
1 1/2 t. orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar

Beat together the first three ingredients until very smooth. Stir in the zest and powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Spread on top of the bars. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries evenly on top of the bars.

Using 50% power melt the remaining chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave at 1 minute intervals. Stir after every minute until completely melted and then drizzle over the cranberries

Cut the bars into large squares, and then cut once diagonally to make triangles.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

December 17, 2010

Mexican Wedding Cakes

It has been years since I’ve made these cookies. They go by a lot of names. Russian Tea Cakes, and Snowballs are two other names that immediately come to mind. I can’t imagine why so many years have passed since I last made these. Maybe it’s because I love them so much that I can’t keep my hand out of the cookie jar!

This year I made them entirely in the food processor. It was super easy! The only drawback is that I really dislike washing the food processor, but the speed with which these came together was a good trade off. You can just as easily make them with a mixer or by hand, but you will need to grate or grind the nuts to a fine powder first.

I recommend rolling the cookies twice in the powdered sugar mixture and then sprinkling them with just a little more of the powdered sugar just before serving. They’re super pretty that way.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

1/2 c. toasted pecan halves
1 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 c. unsalted butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour

Topping:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/8 t. cinnamon

Using the metal blade of the food processor process the toasted nuts with the sugar and salt until the pecans are very finely ground. With the motor running add the butter a little at a time until smooth and creamy. Scrape the bowl and add the vanilla. Pulse in the flour until the dough starts to cling together.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough in the refrigeratorfor an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Form the dough into 1 inch balls. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes and then roll them in the powdered sugar mixture. When you’ve rolled them all once repeat the process. Save the excess powdered sugar mixture, and sprinkle it over the cookies just before serving.


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