During the Winter months Starbucks introduces their Cranberry Bliss Bars. This delicious heavenly dessert bars melt right in your mouth and they are so good! I could not quite place my finger on my obsession but I love them a lot. But, they are very expensive and I am very poor. When I do go to Starbucks, I can just afford to get my drink and at least once a year during this season, I will splurge on the $3 and change tiny triangle of heaven. So I thought about it so more and said to myself, “Why am I a slave for the corporate man!?” Okay, maybe I did not say it quite like that but what was stopping me from making my own? I was be the domestic kitchen goddess if I brought this to Christmas or New Years parties.
So this year, when I had my annual Cranberry Bliss Bar, I took it one, very slow, bite at a time until I thought I had the flavors down. The bottom portion is technically a simple blondie was some jazzing up, the top was a cream cheese frosting with some sort of citrus in it. I think it is the citrus that gets me, honestly. Something about the sweet cream cheese frosting mixed with the bite of citrus and cranberries… I think I need to go grab myself another slice.
at least I got a nice picture before I ate one of the slices
Okay, I am back. So now, I am going to teach you how to make this amazing scrumptious dessert bar. This versatile yumminess could even be turned into a cookie, maybe even a cake! So let’s get to it.
First off let me start off by saying, let your inhibitions go! Whether you are a baker or not, just go with what feels right. Taste everything. While attempting to make a yummy white chocolate citrus drizzle, I realized the lemon juice appears to curdle the melted chocolate. Hm. So I scraped it out and started over. Taste the cream cheese frosting as you go. Think it needs more lemon or more sugar? Do it! You are the master of your own kitchen, ladies and gents!
The ingredients are listed below. You can find the exact measurements throughout the tutorial or scroll all the way down to find the recipe card that you can save, print, share, and rate!
- Softened butter
- Light brown sugar
- Crystallized ginger (optional)
- Vanilla extract
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Sweetened dried cranberries
- White chocolate (chips or bar)
- Softened cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
Step by Step Instructions
Add 1 & 1/2 stick of softened butter and 1 & 1/4 cup of light brown sugar to a medium mixing bowl and cream together until smooth.
I knew I was going to make this a day or two ahead of time so I left the butter out in a tupperware container the whole time. I am awful at remembering to soften ingredients beforehand and usually end up slightly microwaving them. However, butter can sit out for days at a time and be fine, so if you think you are going to be making this, just sit them out and let them wait until you are ready.
Add 3 eggs, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt (table or sea salt would be fine too), and 2 tablespoons of minced crystallized ginger.
The ginger is optional. It is not always easy to find and can be a bit pricey. You may find it in the spices section, however, I usually find it in the produce section. You can also substitute a pinch of ground ginger, or as I said, leave it out all together. It just adds a hint of yummy flavors and is definitely in the Starbucks version of the Cranberry Bliss Bar.
Add 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder to about 1 & 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. In the picture above I am using a 1/2 cup and I added it in increments of a half a cup. It is always best to add your flour gradually and mix it in well before adding the next addition.
If you haven’t already, chop up about a cup of sweetened dry cranberries. You notice in the picture on the left I tried to show you how to position your knife. When you are mincing or chopping up things like this, you want to have the tip of your knife on the board and it should never leave. All the motion should come from your wrist/hand holding the handle.
Repeat the above but this time chop up around 4 ounces of white chocolate. I bought a 12 ounce bag, so I what I do is I grab the bag in the middle and move my hand up just a little bit and basically pinch off the bag and pour out that amount. It is not a perfect science but unless you buy the white chocolate bars (which you can do), or own a kitchen scale, this is the easiest way for me to measure how much I am adding.
Add the cranberries and white chocolate to the batter. Grab your favorite spatula and fold together. Make sure to scrap the bottom and sides of the bowl to get everything nicely mixed.
Butter a 9×13 baking dish. We want these bars to be thin, so a nice large surface will serve us well. If you softened your butter ahead of time, a great trick is to use the wrapper which will have bits of butter left on it and use that to butter the dish. No mess and very easy!
Scoop out the batter into the dish and use your spatula to push it around into all the corners and spread it out as evenly as possible.
Pop it into the oven at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes. Ovens are finicky, so check it around 25 minutes to see if its done. A toothpick or small sharp object can be poked in the middle to check it, if it comes out clean-ish with just a bit of crumbs, it’s done! I checked it at 25 and still got batter, 30 minutes seemed to do well for me.
After about 30 minutes this is what you should see. Mmmm, yummy golden brown deliciousness.
Now while this cools, it is time to start working on your frosting!
Add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese to a medium mixing bowl with 2 cups of powdered sugar. I forgot to soften my cream cheese so I sat it opened on top of the oven while the bars baked, it was perfect by the time I was ready for it!
Normally they will tell you not to add all the powdered sugar at once because it will make a mess. This may be true if you are pouring it in gradually or maybe if you are using a stand mixer, but I am too poor for that. If you are using a hand electric mixer, just dump it all in.
Roll a lemon on the counter top to break up the juices inside. Then, using a grater, grate some lemon zest into the bowl. I would start with about 2 teaspoons, though I didn’t measure it. Just go around the lemon a few times and get some of the yummy zest into the bowl. Remember, you want the yellow part, once it gets white, avoid that area as it is very bitter.
After your zest is added, cut the lemon in half and squeeze some juice out into your hand. This will make it easy to catch any seeds. Fill the palm of your hand up just a little bit and dump it into the frosting. Add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Cream the frosting together. It should come together very easily. Once you are done taste it! This is so important. I wanted my frosting a bit sweeter so I added another 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar. I mixed and tasted it again and thought I could use more citrus (the citrus notes really make these bars, in my opinion). So I grated probably another 2 teaspoons and another handful of lemon juice. Measuring is not necessary here. Just add, mix, taste, and adjust as you would like it to taste. Have fun!
Once you have perfected your frosting, dump it all out onto the middle of the cooled bars. Use your favorite spatula to spread it out evenly across the whole dish.
Chop up about a 1/2 a cup or more if you prefer of sweetened dried cranberries and sprinkle them over the top.
Add a handful of white chocolate chips or chopped bar to a bowl and microwave 10 seconds at a time, stirring in between each time (make sure to scrap the bottom of the bowl), until you get a consistency as pictured on the right. You want to be able to scoop up some and have it drizzle down. This should take about 30 seconds total.
From here you can either drizzle it directly over the whole cake, or cut your pieces and drizzle it over them.
Mmm. I might need to go eat another one now.
You can cut them in squares but I decided to complete the copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars and cut them into triangles.
My whole family is now obsessed with these. They are an easy and quick dessert recipe and you will adore them once you give them a try. They are seriously so fast and affordable that you must try them! You will thank me!
- 1 & 1/2 sticks of softened butter
- 1 & 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of minced crystallized ginger (optional)
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (can be subbed for other salt)
- 1 & 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of chopped sweetened dried cranberries (plus more for topping)
- 4 ounces of white chocolate (chips or bar)
- 4 ounces of softened cream cheese
- 2 cups of powdered sugar (more per taste)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon zest (more per taste)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (more per taste)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 cup of white chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together with a mixer until smooth.
- Add the eggs, crystallized ginger, vanilla, and the salt, then beat well.
- Gradually mix in the flour and baking powder until smooth.
- Mix the chopped dried cranberries and chopped white chocolate into the batter with your favorite spatula.
- Scoop the batter out and into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
- Use your spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan and into the corners.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check after 25 minutes, if a toothpick does not come out clean (or with a few crumbs), then continue to bake for 5 more minutes.
- Cream together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer until smooth.
- Once the bars have cooled, dump the frosting into the middle and spread out evenly, making sure to get the sides and corners.
- Sprinkle 1/2 a cup of chopped dried cranberries over the frosting.
- Put the white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave 10 seconds at a time. Between each session stir well, making sure to scrap the bottom and the sides. Microwave until the chocolate drizzles off of the spoon, about 30 seconds.
- You can serve the cake immediately or for best results refrigerate at least 1-2 hours first.
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