Earlier this month I took down the gingerbread cookie garland I had hanging in my kitchen window. The window was looking a bit bare, so I wanted to make something to dress it up again, but in a Valentine’s theme. This time I opted for paper hearts, embellished with some buttons, beads and pretty twine.
I been enjoying the new garland over my kitchen window, and this week I had some time to make some cute matching cookies. Simple shapes and designs, with a fun pop of blue.
For the garland I used…
Paper hearts (I cut mine out with my Cricut, but you could use a punch, or cut them by hand)
Twine (from The Twinery- I used Maraschino and Pink Sorbet )
Wooden beads (I bought a bag of all pink ones from Wal-Mart)
~ Directions ~
Decide on the length of your garland and prepare as many hearts as you need to fill the length. Attach two or more hearts together (as desired) using any kind of glue or adhesive (I use Tombo adhesive). String twine through a button and make a bow. Attach button to prepared hearts using glue dots, or tacky glue. When you have your hearts dressed as desired with buttons, punch small holes on each side of the hearts (at the top). String paper hearts and wooden beads along a double thick length of twine. Tie ends, hang up and enjoy!
This past Christmas I became a bit obsessed with re-creating Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars. These delicious treats are one of Starbucks most popular holiday desserts. The Starbucks version consists of a chewy, cake base (similar to a blondie) studded with white chocolate chunks and cranberries, then a delicious cream cheese frosting, topped with more cranberries and a drizzle of white chocolate. Sounds delicious, right? This is why I had to learn to make them!
After purchasing two Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks (in the name of research), reading the ingredient list of the original (from Starbucks) and then reading through at least a dozen different recipe claiming to be the “top secret recipe”, I headed to the kitchen and worked up a recipe that I’m really happy with. I made several batches over Christmas and the bars received rave reviews from all of my “taste-testers” (the official panel includes my friends, neighbors and my husband’s co-workers). Now to be fair, the end results of my recipe tests did not create an exact copy of the original Starbucks version. Although I know this recipe has most all of the same ingredients, the Starbucks version is a bit chewier, and this recipe is a bit more cake-like. But the flavor is right on. And everyone who tasted my version said they were as good, if not better than the “original”.
Cranberry White Chocolate Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (slightly softened)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) white chocolate chips
~ Frosting ~
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2- 2/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
~ Directions ~
1.) Preheat oven to 350 (F) degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan then set aside (I also like to line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the two long sides- this allows the bars to be pulled out of the pan after baking for easier cutting).
2.) In a medium bowl add the flour, powdered ginger, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set bowl aside.
3.) In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined.
4.) Stir in cranberries and white chocolate. Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
5.) Bake 25-30 minutes, until edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6.) Prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and orange extract. Beat about 1 minute until fully incorporated.
7.) Assemble dessert by spreading the frosting onto the baked and cooled bars. Sprinkle additional cranberries on top. Drizzle melted white chocolate on top as desired.
Recipe Source ~ Final recipe by Glorious Treats
(Adapted from Mr. Breakfast, based on the original recipe from Starbucks)
Share these delicious treats with someone you love!
To make heart shaped bars, I used a heart cookie cutter.
You could also cut the bars into triangles, and then argue with your friends that you did in fact make them (and didn’t just buy them from Starbucks).
~ Shopping notes ~
Cute red and white straws from Shop Sweet Lulu.
The little milk bottles were a gift from a friend. Similar ones are available from Sharnel Dollar Design.
There is something extra special about a handmade Valentine. And a Valentine handmade by a child… even sweeter!
I’m blessed to have a little daughter who loves crafting as much as I do. So, each year we have fun making and packaging little treats for her friends. In past years we’ve made cookies and added hand written tags (using scrapbooking paper).
This year I designed a simple tag (to share with you!) and we attached them to little bags of treats. These tags could be added to bags of cookies, candies, or little toys.
(Click the photo above or link below to download and print your own).
To make your own tags, simply print out the Valentine’s Treat Bag Labels onto white cardstock.
(After printing) Trim 1/4 inch off all sides of the full sheet of paper. Cut labels into 4 inch wide by 3.5 inch tall tags. Fold tags in half (using a bone folder if you have one). Fill a clear (or printed) bag (4 inches wide) with treats. Fold over the top of the treat bag, cover the folded edge of the bag with a (pre-folded) tag and staple in place.
*Images above by the shops listed