Smothered with a sinful cream cheese frosting. Because no bars are ever complete without a wicked-good frosting. Even bars as amazing as these
are were. Soft dried cranberries and crunchy slivered almonds come together in the softest, chewiest bar you could imagine. Then frosted to within an inch of it’s life with my super-smooth and very addicting cream cheese frosting. Yep, sorry but diets and health kicks are taking a backseat for a bit while we make way for the good stuff. And not because these bars are full of calories–On the contrary, it’s because you won’t be able to stop eating ’em!
I’m not even a health-nut, guys, (although a lot of people call me one!) I am very into cooking and eating healthy, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually enjoy it! But I also have a GIGANTIC sweet tooth and I can’t get enough of the sweet stuff—Nope, not the refined-sugary sweet stuff. Never been into that and hopefully never will. I’m talking about sweets that are naturally sweetened using whole AND heavenly ingredients (hence the name Whole and Heavenly Oven 😉 ) That’s exactly what I do on my blog—work daily to bring you healthier recipes that taste even better than unhealthy food.
I was planning on spending my afternoon, yesterday baking cupcakes, but one glance in the fridge told me that I had a fridge FULL of leftover desserts, so I had to put off cupcakes for a little while longer (I have been having the biggest cupcake cravings lately). Anyway, I found a pumpkin pecan pie AND a container full of these bars. While I was checking out this dessert situation, I couldn’t help but notice the delicious cream cheese and cranberry smells coming from that container….Am I the only one who loves the combo of cream cheese and cranberries? Mmmm… Just too tempting—I couldn’t help myself and had to have one of these bars for lunch along with my turkey sandwich. Now that is a balanced meal, I’d say 😉
These bars are so pretty and just so fun they can be served for any occasion—formal or informal–Short on time? Don’t sweat it—these bars are so simple and easy they’re ready for your enjoyment in only a little more than an hour!
10 minutes prep time + 30 minutes bake time + 30 minutes cool time = Dessert ready in record time.
These bars will also keep really well in the fridge for up to two days–In my opinion, they even taste better on Day 2—Just don’t expect them to last that long 😉 I seriously need an avira reseller to keep track of all the “stolen” goodies disappearing from my house.
The leading ingredient in these bars softness and chewiness is: Sour cream. Not too much, though because I did not want my bars to have a bitter aftertaste, but just enough to lend that lovely light and chewy texture. While the sour cream works it’s magic, just a bit of vanilla and almond extract really bring out these bars delicious flavors and give it that special touch.
Because I wanted every bite of these bars to be filled with soft red cranberries and crunchy slivered almonds, I had no intention of skimping on the cranberries and almonds–1 cup of each yielded a speckled-all-over effect in these bars that I just LOVED. If you want to get fancy, you can sprinkle each bar with additional cranberries and slivered almonds, for a pretty effect.
And that cream cheese frosting? Don’t even get me started on that–it is so smooth, creamy, sweet, and tangy that you will want to eat it straight from the mixing bowl. No. Joke. I gave my nine-year old sister, Abby the mixing bowl to lick, and she sat there meticulously scraping the bowl for nearly twenty minutes.
Friendly tip: Be sure to stash a few of these for yourself—kids and menfolk LOVE them!
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1-3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Additional cranberries and slivered almonds, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 15 x 10 x 1 in baking pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter, honey, eggs, sour cream, and extracts until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add to liquid mixture, stirring until batter is smooth. Fold in cranberries and almonds. Spread evenly in prepared baking pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake at 350 F 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat all frosting ingredients on high speed 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Spread frosting evenly over cooled bars and sprinkle with additional cranberries and almonds if desired. Cut into bars and serve.
It’s CRANBERRY season, y’all! Check out my other cranberry recipes:
By the way, guys—Would you rather my next cupcake recipe I share with you be: Chocolate, or pumpkin? You choose!