I love Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks. They have long been my Holiday indulgence. But sometimes I don’t want to put on appropriate footwear (see this post) and get in the car to get them. And sometimes I want more than just one and I don’t want to pay ten bucks to get them. So all that led to me, one day, googling copycat cranberry bliss bar and lo and behold it existed and forever changed my life.
I have tried a few different recipes and the let me tell you the ones with a bit of orange zest are the real deal. My favorite is this one from Averie Cooks. Though I have changed it here and there like doubling the cream cheese from 4 ounces to 8 ounces.
I have the best memory of whipping them up when my grandparents came to visit years ago. I only had one baby back then and still did things like bake for visitors. They stayed for a long weekend with us and we lost power for 3 of those days. We faired just fine because we had gas everything (water heater, stove and oven) and these cranberry bliss bars.
With a bar that’s more like a blondie than cake or cookie, filled with chewy cranberries and chunks of rich white chocolate, topped with cream cheese frosting, chopped cranberries, all drizzled with white chocolate make these bars irresistible. Make them and take them for Thanksgiving or to your annual Holiday Cookie Exchange, either way, you’ll be the hit of the party and you can keep your slippers on the whole time they bake!!
- For the Bars
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, optional and to taste (this is the most important part!)
- For the Frosting and Topping
- 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and divided
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups+ confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, loosely packed (optionally, roughly dice them if the pieces are larger)
- For the Bars - Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a stand mix or separate bowl add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and melted butter, stir to combine. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough. Fold in 3/4 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup cranberries, orange zest, and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
- Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, and center is set and golden or until edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan, or a toothpick comes out clean; do not overbake. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. While they cool, make the frosting.
- For the Frosting and Topping - In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high power, about 1 minute, reheating in 10-second intervals, or until it can be stirred smooth.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, about three-quarters of the melted white chocolate, 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (I don't sift it because any tiny lumps will be covered up by sprinkled cranberries and white chocolate drizzle), vanilla, and beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost the bars; if you have excess, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.
- Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup cranberries over the top of the frosted bars. Evenly drizzle bars with remaining melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds in the microwave if it has set up. Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.