Cran-Orange Bliss Bars

>> Monday, February 6, 2012

Every week I like to make something sweet to have around the house for when I get the munchies (which is quite often unfortunately).  To me, there is nothing more unsatisfying than having a craving that can't be fulfilled.  Usually I make something chocolate-y, but last week I went in a different direction and whipped up these Cran-Orange Bliss Bars.

Lord have mercy, these were so good and such a nice change of pace from usual chocolate fix!  The blondie layer is dense and chewy with a subtle orange flavor.  The frosting never fully hardens so that it stays nice and creamy and the cream cheese keeps it from being too sweet.  Plus since these bars have oranges and cranberries in them, they can kind of count as being healthy, right?  They were great with a strong cup of coffee in the morning too :-)

Cran-Orange Bliss Bars
adapted from Recipe Girl, as seen on The Girl Who Ate Everything

for the bars:
3/4 cup salted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of 2 oranges
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
6 oz white chocolate chips

for the frosting:
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave; stir in brown sugars.  Let cool to room temperature.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and vanilla together and add in butter mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange zest.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips.  (Batter will be thick.)

Spread blondie mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar and orange juice.  Continue to add more powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency.  Spread frosting over cooled blondies and sprinkle with dried cranberries.  Store in the refrigerator and cut into bars.


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