And the madness is just about over here with the mass of holidays! Phew, thank goodness! I was happy to step back and have a few days to spend with my family, but now it's time to get back to work. Okay, so... here we go.
I've been wanting to make a skinny variation of the Cranberry Bliss Bar that they have Starbucks for a long long long time now. I have, in fact, had this recipe in my handy-dandy little note book for quite a while now (about two years actually) but for whatever reason it keeps getting pushed back each year.
Well, a few weeks before Christmas one of my aunts sent me a special request for a Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bar recipe. She mentioned that the one at Starbucks is something like 360 calories for one bar. Yikes! And just like me, it's one of her favorite holiday treats! So, of course I was more than happy to oblige.
This is the sort of fun holiday treat that would be great for breakfast, snack, or even a dessert! I ended up taking mine as a dessert to a tree lighting party that my mom was hosting. I had left a little early and let her keep the leftovers to enjoy with her guests and take to her office the next day.
Needless to say, I was returned a rather spotless pan!
That always makes me feel good. Especially since her office is full of a bunch of men that aren't particularly looking for anything healthy or skinny and would most likely turn their noses up to it if they knew the healthy truth behind it.
I won't tell, if you won't! Shh... our little secret... And the best part is they'd never guess!
To lighten this special festive treat up, I swapped out some of the butter for applesauce, sweetener for some of the sugar, used eggs and egg whites, and of course used a lighter option of cream cheese. All of these swaps are minor and I promise that you won't taste much (if any) difference between it and it's over priced and over indulgent counterpart.
I did, however, manage to shave off about 130 calories per bar with just a few small adjustments. Not too shabby!
Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars
Servings: 16 • Size: 1 Bar • Calories: 221.1 • Fat: 7.5 g • Carb: 36.9 g • Fiber: 1.2 g • Protein: 4.8 g • Sugar: 27.4 g • Sodium: 164 mg
1/2 C. (1 Stick) Light Unsalted Butter, Softened
1/4 C. Unsweetened Applesauce
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Sweetener (I used Stevia in the Raw.)
2 Whole Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Whites
2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
3/4 C. Whole Wheat White Flour
3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/2 C. White Chocolate Chips
1/4 C. Dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp. Candied/Crystalized Ginger
8 Oz. Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese (Or Neufchatel.), Softened
1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract (I used half extract and half vanilla bean paste.)
1/4 C. Dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp. White Chocolate Chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly coat the inside of a 13x9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together the butter, applesauce, sugar, and sweetener until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating in between each addition.
Yeah, the mixture looks a little funky at this point. That's okay! It'll all work out in the end.
Slowly add in the flours (about a quarter cup at a time), baking powder, and salt until well blended.
Fold in the chocolate chips, cranberries, and candied ginger until just incorporated.
Spread the batter out into the prepared baking pan and place in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are starting to brown.
Once done, remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the cake is cooling, combine all the ingredients for the frosting.
At this point, you could remove the cake from the pan or keep it there. I like to keep it all in the pan for easing traveling or storing.
Once the cake has cooled completely, top it with the frosting.
Sprinkle the garnish of cranberries and white chocolate chips over the top and divide evenly into 16 bars.
Serve right away or store in the fridge in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
Enjoy your little bit of bliss!