Cherry Bliss Bars

I know, this picture doesn't look that great (and if you want a good picture you can look at this one), but this bar is SO DELICIOUS you will not believe it until you make it. I found this recipe on the What Megan's Making blog as one of her 12 days of Christmas cookie posts and it is a homemade version of the Starbucks cranberry bliss bars. Seeing as how my husband works there and we just love all things Starbucks, I had to try this! 

Recently I am fortunate to have an abundance of dried cherries and thought, this would be a good use for them. I have always liked the store bought bars and get them every year around Christmas so I wanted to make these to compare. It IS very similar, and really tasty. The frosting is sorta gooey, but I put them in the fridge and like how they taste cold, it helps the frosting harden up a bit. I took them to a party/cookie exchange last night and my friend texted me this morning saying they were, "super scrump!" ( Seinfeld reference, anyone?), and should have taken more.
I am listing cherries in the recipe since that is how I made it and I really liked how it turned out with them but one day I will have to make the cranberry version.

Cherry Bliss Bars
adapted from what megan's making, originally seen on my little mochi

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

Drizzling Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and liberally butter a 9x13 pan*. Set the pan aside for later. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt and beat well. Gradually add flour, making sure its well incorporated (I did this with a spoon, not the mixer). Stir in cherries and white chocolate. Pour the batter into your pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean and it is a light brown color.

For frosting, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, orange zest and juice until smooth. Top completely cooled cake with frosting and sprinkle the chopped cherries on top.

For drizzle, in a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, shortening and milk, adding milk gradually until it becomes a drizzling consistency (almost 2 Tablespoons.) Then spoon it into a plastic bag and cut off a tiny corner, then drizzle it over the frosting. You won't need all of it.

*The butter should help it come out, just make sure not to overcook it because it will get a little tough. I had a hard time cutting it but it might have been because I overcooked it a little. And, I may or may not have put the batter in to bake without the cherries or white chocolate and had to take it out while it was hot, emptying it out into a bowl and then emptied the batter back in without re-buttering it... which may or may not have made it a little hard to cut out.

Chocolate Transfers

I made cookies for my work Christmas potluck using candy melts and chocolate transfer sheets. It was my first time using them and it was really pretty simple. I don't imagine making these too often, but I would totally make these for special occasions!
I looked up alot of YouTube videos on how to use the sheets and on the first one I used, I spread out a layer of candy melts on the sheet and refrigerated it until it was dry, then used a cookie cutter to try to cut out the shapes... and that was a total waste. It looked so simple on the video, but in reality it cracked the candy into lots of little pieces and didn't work at all. Maybe it was only supposed to dry partially before cutting? With these I cut the sheets so they would fit over the cookies, then spread a layer of chocolate on my cookie and pressed the sheet on it lightly. Then I waited for it to dry and peeled off the sheet, this worked really well for me. I decorated a cross shaped cookie and also an ornament shape and I think that simpler shapes work best because details get a bit lost when the sheet is pressed down. I would totally recommend trying this out and if you like this design, you can find it here at the Fancy Flours website. I also tried out this pattern but I would NOT recommend it because it looked really bad. I tried it on red candy and it looked like a crusty white covering and the pattern didn't come out at all, I also tried it on white and the design was so light I could hardly see it. Maybe it needs a brown chocolate background, I don't know.
Aside from the transfers, I also made some cookies with a spread of red candy melts and white pearl candy.

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