Wait no more. The time of year has come at last. NO, not Thanksgiving or Christmas themselves, but the magical day when Starbucks stores across the land start selling their limited-time-only Cranberry Bliss bars. Starbucks pastries are a mixed bag, in my humble, but this is one of their undeniable runaway hits – also sold by the full tray, if that gives you any indication. Today, in fact, those trays are on special for 50% off as part of the “12 Days of Giving”.
Most of you, as foodies, probably know exactly what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t had one of these, either run right out and pick one up . . . or keep on reading here and try a homemade version that is also, yes, gluten-free! Celiacs and other gluten sensitive folk can now partake in the joy, the mmm, the bliss that is Cranberry Bliss.
Of note: This happens to be egg-free as well, substituting flax for eggs works nicely in the base that is very much like a blondie, dense and moist; I used golden flaxseed meal for the purpose of color, but you can certainly use regular. I opted out on only one significant component: the crystallized ginger, saving a bit by increasing the ground ginger in the cake itself. On the white chocolate – I say this is one area to not skimp too much; I lucked out and Ghiradelli happened to be on special, but still, cheap white chocolate is just terrible.Â Normally I am actually not crazy about white chocolate, like, at ALL, but there’s something about the tart cranberries and citrus and cream cheese that works beautifully with it. I really do enjoy it here. Oh, and I did want to work out a version that is also VEGAN, but because cream cheese is such a big component, I thought I’d best take it one step at a time.
GLUTEN-FREE CRANBERRY BLISS BARS
3 tablespoons flaxmeal (golden if you have it)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup (heaping) chopped craisins
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×12 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Stir the flaxmeal into the warm water with a fork and let stand until thickened a bit – the time elapsed while creaming the butter and sugars and assembling some other prep should be fine.
In a large standing mixer, cream together butter or shortening and sugars. Add yogurt, flax and vanilla extract and continue mixing until incorporated. Stir dry ingredients (except craisins and chocolate) together in a separate bowl, then add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until flour is incorporated. Fold in the craisins and white chocolate.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely, then top with frosting as per below!
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoons orange juice (plus the zest of the orange if freshly squeezed)
Additional 1/3 to 1/2 cup minced dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk
Stir cream cheese, sugar, juice and zest together. Melt chocolate over a double boiler or by 10 to 20 second increments in a microwave.
After smoothing the frosting over the cooked blondie base, sprinkle additional craisins generously over the top, and drizzle the melted white chocolate over everything with artistic diagonal slashes. To be all the more authentic, cut into large rectangles, and then bisect the rectangles diagonally to form jaunty triangles.
Needless to say, you will be the star of the party at any holiday event you bring these babies to, so please report back!
– posted by Anne