The original version uses white chocolate chips, and while you are more than welcome to, I find that bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips are much easier to find vegan. But if you have them, use them!
The batter is very simple - flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, aquafaba, vegan butter, sugar, chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Once creamed together, fold in the chocolate and cranberries and press into a 12X12-inch pan, or a 1/4 sheet pan. The size is really inconsequential as long as the batter is about 1/2-inch thick.
While the cookies bake and cool make the cream cheese frosting. If you really don't like it too sweet you can cut the frosting ingredients in half and frost the base very lightly.
After they bake and cool, trim the sides and cut the bars into triangles. Once frosted the bars will soften up a little and the frosting will harden a bit, making stacking possible. If they last that long, these bars are good for up to a week. Enjoy with tea or coffee.
Cranberry Bliss Bars
Makes about 12 bars
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 tablespoons aquafaba**
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 ounces nondairy cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange juice (zest orange first)
2 cups confectioner sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons orange zest
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees F. Add the butter, sugar, ginger and salt to a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream well. Add the aquafaba a tablespoon at a time to help achieve a homogeneous mixture. Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Mix well and add to the butter mixture. Mix well using the hand mixer.
2. Add the 1 cup of cranberries and the chocolate chips. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Line a 12x12 baking sheet (or a 1/4 sheet pan) with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Add the dough and press into the pan. The dough should be about 1/2 -inch thick. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes; do not over bake. Remove and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack.
3. Frosting: Combine the cream cheese, salt and juice in a medium bowl. Mix well using a hand mixer. Add the sifted confectioner sugar and mix again. Add half of the zest.
4. When completely cool, frost the bars, reserving about 1/4 cup of the frosting. Add the 3/4 cup cranberries on top of the frosting and drizzle the remaining frosting over the cranberries. Add the rest of the orange zest.
5. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the large rectangle. Cut in half and cut each half into 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half diagonally. Allow the frosting to set overnight. If the bars are too crunchy allow to sit uncovered until they soften a bit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
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