Cranberry Bliss Bars

Makes about 12 bars

www.ZsusVeganPantry.com

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

Frosting:

4 ounces nondairy cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch salt

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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