Cranberry Confection Bars

Cranberry Confection BarsCourtesy of Lory Utz

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients for the first layer:

1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, chopped coarsely
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/4 cup orange zest

Lightly butter an 11×15 inch jelly roll pan. Melt the butter, cool slightly. Combine with brown sugar, eggs, vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add flour, backing powder and salt until well blended, then stir in chocolate chips, cranberries, pecans and orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan (it will be stiff) and bake until golden brown, about 20-22 minutes. Set on rack to cool.

Ingredients for the white chocolate frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp grated orange zest, divided into 2 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Glaze: 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, mixed with 1 Tbsp butter.

Cream the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and 1 Tbsp. of the orange zest together with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth. Spread the mixture over the cooled base. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest and dried cranberries over the frosting. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler (or a small pan sitting over a larger pan with hot water in the bottom). Drizzle the semi-sweet chocolate in little lines over the top of the frosting. I use a small Ziploc bag and just cut one tiny bit off the bottom corner to make a simple pastry bag. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.