Save yourself a lot of time and still enjoy the Holiday flavors - make bars instead of cookies!
Drunken Cranberry White Chocolate Bars – Holidays made EASY! But, NOT really drunken, the flavors are just accented with a little bourbon.
What a combination of flavors in these delicious and easy to make bars for the Holidays or any time of the year. With a brown sugar and butter base layer, I’ve added a punch of alcohol by soaking the cranberries – in Woodford Reserve Bourbon. And with orange zest sprinkles on top of the cream cheese frosting, they almost taste like a Bourbon Old Fashioned Cocktail. Like I said, “What a combination of flavors.”
You can sub brandy to soak the cranberries in if you’re fresh out of bourbon. And, you prefer no alcohol, just stir in the cranberry chunks without soaking them. You will still have a delicious bar, just without a little punch of alcohol.
It’s a celebratory mouthful of flavors – cinnamon and brown sugar bar featuring bourbon-soaked cranberries, along with the cream cheese cream frosting, topped with drizzled white chocolate and cranberries. Be sure to sprinkle some orange zest on top to give them an Old Fashioned Cocktail flavor.
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees a few minutes before you’re ready to bake.
Prep your 9”x 9” pan:
Whether you use a non-stick pan or not, be sure to lightly brush the bottom and sides with soft butter. Then line it with parchment paper so you have 2” overhangs over all four sides. The parchment paper makes it easy for you to lift out the bars after they’ve been baked and cooled.
Gather up your Ingredients:
4 T Cranberries, dried, rough chopped
2 T Bourbon
½ C Butter, melted, not browned
1 C Brown sugar
2 t Vanilla extract
2 C Flour
1 t Baking powder
Pinch of Salt
1/8 t Cinnamon, ground
5 oz White “chocolate” melting candies, rough chopped
Gather items for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz Cream cheese, room temp
1 C Powdered sugar
2 t Vanilla extract
5 oz White “chocolate” melting candies, melted
1 T Orange zest, optional
Mix and bake the bars: - Rough chop the cranberries and soak in the bourbon in a small bowl. Set aside to cool.
- In a separate microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.
- Stir in the brown sugar and cool it to room temperature.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon.
- Stir the two mixtures together to thoroughly combine.
- Stir in the cooled bourbon-soaked cranberry chunks and rough chopped white “chocolate” candies.
- Bake at 350F degrees for 15-18 minutes. Do the clean toothpick test to make sure it’s done. I usually rotate the pan 180 degrees at the 12-minute mark to make sure it bakes evenly in my oven.
- Cool completely before frosting, garnishing and cutting the bars. I let them cool on a rack, then cool in the frig for about an hour before frosting, cutting and lifting them out of the pan.
Mix the frosting for the bars:
- In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Drizzle in half of the melted white chocolate as you are beating the frosting. This will help make the frosting a little stiffer.
- Frost the bars.
- Sprinkle with the rough chopped cranberries.
- Drizzle with the rest of the melted white chocolate.
- Sprinkle the orange zest on top of all the drizzles so they stick. If you don't care for orange zest, it's easy enough not to add.
- Cool and cut into squares or triangles for a festive appearance.
Festive garnish option:
- If you want to make it more like an Old-Fashioned Cocktail, soak some dried off maraschino cherries in more bourbon or brandy and cut in half. Pat dry on paper towels and arrange on top of the frosting so every bar gets one or two cherry halves.
- To make it even a little more Christmas-y, add some green maraschino cherry slivers that you’ve patted dry, alongside the red cherry halves.
- These will keep for 5-7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- I freeze the bars up to 2 months by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap, then in an airtight container. It’s okay to freeze them with the frosting and cranberries on top. Let them thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
Celebrate the occasion with your besties and a cocktail. However you like your Old-Fashioned Cocktail, in a glass or as my edible Drunken Cranberry White Chocolate Bar, be sure to “Bake your own Memories!”