Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mrs. McKeeby 1, Starbucks 0

The 4th and 5th grade team decided to have a holiday breakfast to celebrate the last week of school. I searched long and hard for a recipe to please my co-workers and was really determined to make something that would never be guessed as gluten free. I found an old recipe copying Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Bars. I have never tried the original starbucks bars or this recipe, because my husband doesn't like white chocolate. With this special occassion I figured I'd go nuts and bake a big batch for my team. I've only ever heard good things about them.
BINGO!! This was the winner! The result was beautiful, tasty, wonderfully delicious dessert bars. I put 2 bars aside for myself (left on my desk) and went to the breakfast with my best lieing face(bad teacher). "No, of course, these are not gluten free. I wanted to make something everyone could enjoy." I know this seems silly, but I have a few coworkers who are not the most supportive of my diet (as if I have a choice). In response one even said "Good, I'm glad you didn't bring us cardboard to eat". (See why I lie?)

Well, I proceeded to watch everyone eat and listen to everyone's criticism on all the food. By the end of breakfast, ALL 32 of my bars were gone, with over half of the people going back for 2nd and 3rds. I heard people raving about them and even had 2 people ask for the recipe. By lunch, a teacher came by my room asking if there were anymore left because she had heard through the grapevine how delicious my Cranberry bars were.

I would definitely call that a success!! And, of course, after everyone enjoyed their 1, 2, or 3 bars I let them all in on my little secret that they were in fact, Gluten Free :)
I hope you all enjoy these as much as my co-workers did.

Adapted from Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur

* 2 sticks buter, softened
* 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
* 1 1/2 cups Pamela's baking mix
* zest of 1 lemon
* 3/4 cup cranberries
* 6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
* 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
* 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
* 4 tsp lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup cranberries, diced
* 1 ounce chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using an electric mixer, blend butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and beat well. Slowly stir in flour and xanthan gum. Mix cranberries and chocolate chunks in by hand. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Allow to cool.

Make frosting by mixing all frosting ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. When cake is cool, spread frosting on.

Sprinkle diced cranberries on top. Melt chocolate in microwave, 20-30 seconds at a time. Stir until smooth. Pour into a ziploc bag and cut off the very corner (a tiny hole). Use the ziploc bag to create lines of chocolate across the cake. This step is optional, but it makes the bars look so pretty.

All the recipes I found recommended cutting the pan in half lengthwise and then in 4th width-wise, followed by a diagonal cut to make triangles. Since they were so sweet and I was going to a party of 20+ people, I cut the cake 1st in 4ths lengthwise, then in 5ths widthwise with a final diagonal cut for pretty triangles. I left some larger in their original square shape to save for myself and served the triangles at the party. Depending on number of people you want to serve and how big you want your pieces you could get anywhere between 16 larges pieces to 40 party size pieces.

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