Sunday, November 29, 2009

25 Days of Christmas Teaser

The other day I put out a plea for 24 other bloggers to join me in 25 days of Christmas. A few of you have responded and I love that! Thanks. Here's what's gonna happen. Even if we have less then 24 other bloggers besides myself, this venture will go on! I will contact each of you to be a "guest blogger" of the day, for you to share your entry with our friends. Then you can simply link on over, or reprint it onto your OWN blog the following day. :) That simple! I will leave the date open, and allow others to join in later if they wish, as we continue the countdown.

And for a taste of what you can expect on the 25 days Christmas, here is a recipe that will sure to make many of you smile! This is a copycat recipe of Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bar, one of my personal all time favorites this time of year. You can bet when I have a free day, it includes one of these along with a Peppermint Mocha.

Cranberry Ecstasy Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup minced dried cranberries
1 1/2 ounces white chocolate (such as Ghirardelli brand) chopped

1 (8-ounce package) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest (or orange zest)
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup minced dried cranberries

1 ounce white chocolate
1/4 cup sifted powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper and then grease the paper.

To make cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; continue mixing until light. Sift together flour, ground ginger and salt; add to the butter-sugar mixture. Continue mixing until flour is incorporated. Fold in dried cranberries, chocolate and crystallized ginger. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan.

To make frosting: In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and salt until well-mixed.

Remove cake from pan and trim off the edges so cake is uniformly flat. Using an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, uniformly spread the frosting onto top of cake. Sprinkle minced dried cranberries on top of frosting and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make drizzle: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt white chocolate, whisk in powdered sugar and milk until well-mixed. Scrape into a small, sturdy plastic bag; cut a tiny corner of the bag and squeeze to drizzle chocolate decoratively over the entire frosted cake.

To serve, slice the cake lengthwise down the center, making two long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into four equal portions; slice each of these in half diagonally. Makes 16 bars.

25 Days of Christmas will run from Monday November, 30 to Thursday, December 24. If your not a regular reader of mine, you might want to subscribe so you don't miss out! There is always alot of blogging for me this time of year ~ as it is my therapy! LOL. It is my desire to share with you the things from our childhoods, that made Christmas so special, and those little miracles that never ceased to come forth during this time of year. As I said the other day, we ALL have stories we could share, and what a lovely time to do so! Sometimes, we need to get back to tradition, start a few new ones of our own, and simply just embrace life for what it is at that very moment. Too many times we are rush rush rush, and can't take the time to focus on what's really important to us. This is my way of saying, even for a brief moment, to sit back, relax, and allow yourself to slow down a bit. EMBRACE the spirit of Christmas. Welcome it!

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