Monday, December 14, 2009

Cranberry Ginger Bars

"OMG I just went to Starbucks and I bought a Cranberry Bliss Bar. They are so good but they are so expensive can you make them for me?!"

That was a frantic text that I received early one morning from my friend, Jennifer.

"LOL, of course... when?", I replied.

"Really?! You'll make them?! Oh man, now you're talkin' dirty to me!!"

That's Jennifer. When I talk food, it's "dirty" to her. She's a devoted follower of anything I make that remotely involves buttercream. That's why her and I work out together.

I was actually craving those bars myself that week, having seen a copy cat version of them on my local news station, which is why I found it pretty funny that Jennifer had text me that request early that morning.

While I didn't have the exact ingredients specified in this copy cat version, I knew I could make do with what I had on hand. Fresh ginger root on hand..? Yup. Did you know that a thin slice, slightly simmered in a cup of milk (with a touch of sugar), will calm a nauseous tummy? Now you know...

The recipe called for crystallized ginger, actually. But since I didn't have it, and to keep the texture in the recipe the same, I added some chopped citron (sprinkled with sugar to help with abrasiveness while chopping)

While these aren't exactly like the bars you may have had, I have to say they are pretty close. I love the addition of lemon in the cream cheese frosting, and the fresh ginger is a welcome change of pace from everything previously pumpkin.

Cranberry Ginger Bars
adapted from Todd Wilbur as submitted to


3/4 c unsalted butter
1 c dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger root
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 c AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs citron, mixed and chopped with 1 tsp sugar
1/2 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped Craisins


1/2 c soft cream cheese
3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp lemon juice


1/4 c chopped dried Craisins
4 Tbs white chocolate chips, melted

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the unsalted butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, fresh grated ginger, vanilla, and salt, beating well.

In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Gradually add into the butter mixture until creamy.

Mixing with wooden spoon, add the dried Craisins and citron. Pour batter evenly into a greased 13x9 inch pan (or larger if you prefer a thinner bar). Bake at 350 F for approximately 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Let cool.

For the frosting combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Spread frosting evenly over cooled baked bars.

Melt white chocolate chips and place in a pastry bag with fine tip, or use a small sandwich bag with corner cut off. Pipe white chocolate onto cream cheese frosting in a diamond shape pattern. Sprinkle with chopped Craisins. Bars are best eaten when slightly chilled, and can be frozen.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Irish Cream

Well throw me a pair of curly toed shoe's and call me an elf~ it's actually been cold here in good 'ol Phoenix, AZ! For us desert dwellers, we start doing a little jig when the cool weather hits, only because we know that all too soon, our AC will be back on and our utility bills will rise. Here, cold weather is a welcome reprieve.

We actually enjoy sitting outside on a cold winters night with a fire pit blazing, a blanket to snuggle in, and a wee bit of the Irish to keep us warm.

Years ago, my sister gave me a recipe for Irish Cream, and it was amazing. But the one thing I wasn't too crazy about was that it contained raw egg. Arizona + raw egg = potential problem. So deep in the throes of an Irish cream crave when our temps dipped to a frigid 45 F the other night, I found this recipe for an egg- less, deliciously rich Irish Cream. With ingredients I already had on hand, my little elf toes are not only curly, but nice and snugly warm tonight.

Irish Cream
adapted from Kathy Fredricksen, as submitted to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

1 c half and half
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 c Irish whiskey (I used what I had- Jim Beam)
2 tsp instant coffee
3 Tbs chocolate syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade Bourbon Vanilla)
1 tsp almond extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until well blended. Pour into a covered glass bottle and store in refrigerator. Shake before serving. Serve over crushed ice or in a steaming cup of coffee. Recipe makes exactly 4 cups and keeps approximately 2 months refrigerated.

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