When I was in Austin a couple of weeks ago my daughter in law asked me if I was going to make cranberry bliss bars for Christmas, I had not thought about them in a while.  She said that mine were even better than the ones you buy at Starbucks.  I thought that sounded like a great idea so today I made a batch and they turned out so good, my husband actually said “This is the best thing I have ever tasted….holy crap…seriously, these are so effing good!” I think the molasses, macadamia nuts and the orange zest really make this recipe.

So I took some pictures with my “good” camera of the bars I made today and am sharing the recipe with you, let me know if you have any questions, Enjoy!

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The recipe starts out with a modified chocolate cookie recipe, combine in a bowl:

2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup of pure cane sugar
1/2 cup of brown pure cane sugar
1/4 cup of unsulfured black strap molasses
1 tsp. vanilla

add one egg, mix with spoon

then add dry ingredients:
2 3/4 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

then add one bag of white chocolate chips, four ounces of macadamia nuts and a 1/3 of a regular sized bag of Craisons (I use the no added sugar ones) Save the rest for the topping.

Line a large pizza pan with parchment paper, spread dough evenly across the pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until center shows signs of being baked fully and edges start to brown slightly. Edges will be crunchy and middle will be slightly softer. I’m sorry, I don’t use a timer for this recipe, I just keep a close eye on it. Probably about 15 minutes if I had to guess.

While the giant cookie is cooling, make the frosting.

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting recipe:

3 8oz. packages of cream cheese
about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
about a cup of whipping cream

Whip until smooth

Scoop out about a cup of the frosting, put in a smaller mixing bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to the smaller bowl of frosting and also 1/2 cup of water. (This will be used as the drizzle at the end.)

Back to the big bowl of frosting-add the zest of one orange, whip with a spoon to mix well. Spread over the giant cookie (make sure it has cooled completely first)

Sprinkle the rest of the Craisons all over the top, then drizzle the runny icing back and forth really fast one direction, then the other. I use an icing bag with a writing tip, but you could use a ziplock bag with a small hole instead.

These bars freeze well, just don’t stack them or they get messy.

Enjoy!!

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IMG_8711This recipe is to die for…so pumpkiny and dense! I use freshly grated nutmeg which I think adds a lot to this as well. Of course fresh cream cheese and whip cream frosting.
In a large bowl combine:
1 2/3 cup Flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

mix all of the dry ingredients together with a spoon, then add:
3/4 cup of water
1/3 cup veg. oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1 can of pumpkin

Mix well with a spoon. If mixture seems dry or too thick you can add a little more water if needed.

Spread into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool completely then frost cake in the pan.

Frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 pint or so of whipping cream

Beat with electric mixer until fluffy. refrigerate. (Tastes better cold in my opinion.)

Enjoy!

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Katie and Jon are such a great couple in so many ways-they have been such a joy to work with!  They both have such a good sense of humor and strong appreciation for people.  They take nothing for granted.  I have no doubt they will have a very long happy marriage!  This venue is one that I have been to before, located just a short drive from our family cabin.  We have many memories from that area.  The location is so perfect, with the shape of the property and the way the sun sets so perfectly over the rolling hills, it’s truly a photographer’s dream!  Anyway, like I always say, I do pictures better than words, so I’ll get to the point and show you what I’m talking about, just beautiful!!  One last thing, I mentioned to Katie & Jon that they had picked the perfect day to get married as it’s my birthday…the wedding party got wind of this and sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me!!!  Who does that?  Answer-the best wedding party ever!!!

Out of the 1270 images that I took, it was so hard to pick just a few! Here’s the slideshow, and below just a few of my favorites:
 

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So, like many of my cakes, this one started out like this:  I had some left over cream cheese frosting… But I was craving peanut butter and chocolate.  So to make things easy I went to my pantry to see what I had.  I had a chocolate cake mix, so that was great-makes it so much easier!  So I just added about a 1/4 cup of peanut butter to the frosting, added more whipping cream, beat it until it was light and fluffy.  Then I took a bag of Ghirardelli brand 60% cacao chocolate chips, melted them in a double boiler, added about a cup of heavy whipping cream, stirred until smooth.  (This is how you make ganache) I iced the bottom layer of the chocolate cake, poured enough of the chocolate ganache over the top, just to spread in a circle, but not drizzle over.  I let it set.  put another layer of frosting over that, then the top cake layer.  I iced the whole cake with the remaining frosting, then drizzled the ganache that was left over the top.  I topped it with a few crushed toasted pecans, because….pecans.  I like how it’s not overly sweet.  Anyway, I am very serious when I say, I think this is the best tasting cake I have ever had in my life!!!

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So I have had the same logo and watermark for about 7 years now…7 years!!!   Seriously, it’s time for something new and fresh!  I have always done my own designs since I do basically do graphic design when I put together save the date cards and wedding books, but I’m thinking maybe for once I hire a professional who specializes in logo design.  I have been looking at so many neat things on the Instagram machine and was so inspired by one graphic design artist in particular.  The things she posted really spoke to me.  I love that she paints, in fact she painted a family portrait of her, her husband and their two little kids for a father’s day gift for her husband….so stinkin sweet!  Her designs spoke to me too-beautiful, professional, interesting & inspiring!  Also, little things like a picture on her website of a bottle of Topo Chico-my husband and I have a pantry FULL of cases of Topo Chico sparkling water in glass bottles.  I don’t even know anyone else who drinks Topo Chico…do you?  We live off of that stuff! Weirdly I feel connected to that.  Anyway, I am SO EXCITED to see what she comes up with!!!   Here’s her website if you’re curious: ashtonlenae.design

She, (like me) has just begun to build her Instagram, so please check her out there as well and give her a follow! ashton lenae

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