Friday, November 30, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bars, aka the Perfect Christmas Dessert

Before we get started in the kitchen (chocolate = happy dance) I wanted to remind you about our giveaway going on right now- there are 2 great prizes (retail value $75.00 each)... Click here to enter. Thanks to everyone who has commented so far and given me some great suggestions about the Newsletter!

Plus, my buddy Pat Sloan is also having a Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza! Click here for details on that one.... I will be on Pat's radio show on December 10 and I'm so looking forward to it. I hope you will tune it, because it's going to be fun!

Finally, be sure to check out the Give, Paint, Color! Charity Event hosted my friend Brenda Pinnick! This fun class will be held on December 6, the proceeds benefit Toys for Tots, and there will be giveaways too! It's sure to be an enjoyable and enriching time- Brenda is a wonderful artist... Click here for details.

Now.... hold onto your girdles.... Guest blogger Samantha has been in the kitchen making Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bars...

Let the holiday baking commence! 
Knowing my family, it is no surprise that once we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, whilst stuffing ourselves with turkey and potatoes we began to discuss what we would be making and eating for Christmas. We are always one meal ahead!  I love the holiday season, as many do, because of the baking opportunities.  And when I think Christmas, I think cranberries... yum...

A couple months back I found this recipe of white chocolate bliss bars, just like the ones that Starbucks make.  She had me at Starbucks.  I tried the recipe out and thought it was great... except I am not a huge white chocolate fan... and as I was eating them I couldn't help but think, "Wouldn't it be great if these were chocolate?"

And so here we are.  Because once I start thinking about cranberries and dark chocolate, there is not stopping me.  Hold onto your hats, because I will be in a dessert frenzy until I get my cranberries and dark chocolate.
That being said, these are the perfect treat to bring to a Christmas party.  The chocolate is dark and serious, while the cranberries bring in that bright sweetness every once in a while to change the pace.  I am kind of in love with them.  Don't tell my husband!

Here's what you'll need...
For the Bars:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
To Make the Bars :
 Preheat oven to 350F. Line a pie pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium sized bowl, stir to combine the butter, egg, brown sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the milk, flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough. Fold in dark chocolate chips and cranberries and stir to combine. Scoop batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
Bake for about 20 minutes, and center is set, edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, or a toothpick comes out clean; do not overbake. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then carefully life aluminum foil out of the pie dish, and peel away from the sides of the bars. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.

For the Frosting and Topping:
3/4 cup dark chocolate, melted
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (whipped or light may be used)
2 tbsp milk
1 ½ cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed (optionally, roughly dice them if the pieces are larger)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips
 In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the dark chocolate on high power, about 1 minute, reheating in 10-second intervals, or until it can be stirred smooth; use a double boiler if that's easier.
Combine cream cheese, melted dark chocolate, milk, and confectioners' sugar, and beat until smooth and fluffy. Start by mixing on low speed so sugar doesn't spray, and then beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. Mixture will seem stiff at first but will loosen and fluff up to a smooth velvety texture; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Frost the bars; if you have excess, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.
Evenly sprinkle cranberries and dark chocolate chips over the top of the frosted bars. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Do you have any baking secrets you use for the holidays?  Any "secret weapon" recipes? Share them in the comments!

Happy Weekend!


  1. Have mercy - it looks delicious!! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. Oh yum! That looks fabulous! Where do you find dried cranberries? Are they sweetened? I would love to make this! One time I was rushed making little loaves of cranberry bread for the kids teachers and I used a box mix.. wouldn't you know the teacher asked for my recipe?! I had to admit my little secret. LOL

  3. Oh my, I think I am going to make these! Says you can store in refrigerator for up to a week, who do they think they are kidding, LOL!

  4. I love the Starbucks bliss bars and have made them with the recipe you are talking about which I like because I do like white chocolate. But I also love dark chocolate and your version look delicious. I was just going to settle for one piece from Starbucks this year but after looking at your pictures I am going to have to break down and make some with chocolate.

  5. Sandy, you can find dried cranberries, or "craisins" in your local grocery store baking aisle, or any other place that sells dried fruit and other similar snacks. They are not sweetened, but the drying process does add a certain sweetness that cranberries regularly lack!

  6. Solid post! Looks amazing!



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