Cranberry Bliss Bars (better than Starbucks!)
This festive and deliciously sweet snack is perfect for pairing with your coffee and tea. Cranberry bliss bars have a brown sugar cookie base, orange cream cheese glaze, dried cranberries and white chocolate! I swear they are better than the Starbucks bars.
So what makes these cranberry bliss bars better than the Starbucks version? They are homemade, which makes the flavors fresh and irresistible. You can bake them all year round or ahead of time for holiday gifting! If you like this Starbucks copycat recipe, try my pumpkin scones next.
Why this recipe works
- Festive flavors: A little ginger and orange zest complements the white chocolate and cranberries perfectly.
- Perfect texture: The blondie-like base is easy to make and melts in your mouth. The dried cranberries and white chocolate chips add a soft and chewy texture.
- A seasonal dessert for the whole year: While you typically find these bars in Starbucks around the holidays, you can actually make them any time of year since you can easily find dried cranberries.
- Great for gifting: The recipe uses popular flavors that people love around Christmas time. You can make big batches by doubling the recipe too!
- Butter: Unsalted butter that is melted will make a delicious dessert bar.
- Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar can be used to make a chewy texture and delicious flavor.
- Ground ginger: This spice complements the orange and cranberry flavors.
- Orange Extract: A concentrated citrus flavor is a must for the best bliss bars.
- Dried cranberries: This is a classic holiday ingredients that is easy to find in the fall and winter months.
- White chocolate chips: These are mixed into the bars for some sweetness.
- Cream cheese: I suggest block cream cheese for frosting. It’s a little thicker so it keeps its shape.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this adds sweetness to the frosting.
Switch up the mix-ins! Instead of white chocolate chips, you can also use dark chocolate chips for these bars. Sometimes I like to add some chopped walnuts or pecans to the dough or just sprinkle them on top with the dried cranberries.
Change the frosting and try a simple vanilla buttercream. You can also skip the frosting and add just a drizzle of white chocolate on top of the bars.
Add more spices. If you like a lot of flavor in your dessert bars, whisk in extra spices. I suggest 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. You can also add 1-2 Tablespoons candied ginger or freshly grated ginger for a stronger ginger flavor.
Double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 pan for more bars to share during the holidays. Baking time will be about 5 minutes longer.
How to make cranberry bliss bars
- Whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients: vigorously whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Add egg, orange extract and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Add dry ingredient to wet ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Add the mix-ins. Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
- Transfer batter to prepared baking pan. Bake bars at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make the frosting: Beat cream cheese and orange extract until creamy. Add powdered sugar and mix until combined.
- Frost the bars. Garnish with dried cranberries and orange zest.
- Add melted white chocolate. Melt white chocolate on 50% power level in the microwave. Drizzle over bars. Cut and serve.
Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients for accurate measuring. If you don’t have a scale, spoon your flour into a measuring cup and level off with a knife (do not pack it into the cup). Also use room temperature ingredients to make a smooth consistent dough.
Use orange extract and orange zest. This is essential to make these bars the best they can be as well as a copycat of Starbucks cranberry bliss bars.
Let the bars cool completely before frosting. If the bars are still warm, the frosting will melt! Make sure the baking pan is lined with parchment paper so it is easy to live them out of the pan. I also suggest using block cream cheese that is softened, but still cool. It will make a thick cream cheese frosting.
Store cranberry bliss bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use parchment paper between layers so the bars don’t stick together. The bars may be served at room temperature for about 2 hours.
These dessert bars may also be frozen! After they have cooled, wrap the bars in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Freeze bars for up to 2 months. You can freeze with or without the frosting. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not really. The bars won’t have as strong an orange flavor. I suggest using 2-3 teaspoons orange zest in the bars if you can’t find orange extract.
Yes, I suggest using Cup4Cup flour or gluten-free King Arthur Flour.
I do not recommend fresh cranberries. They will get juicy and burst while baking, which is great for crumble bars, but won’t work for these thinner cookie bars.
Yes, double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 jelly-roll pan for 20 to 22 minutes. You can also use a 10×15 pan, but they will be thinner.
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Cranberry Bliss Bars
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ¾ cup (150 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (85 g) white chocolate chips
- ½ cup (60 g) dried cranberries, loosely packed
- ½ cup (113 g or 4 oz) block cream cheese, softened, but still cool
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- Orange zest for garnish
- ½ cup white chocolate melting wafers, or almond bark
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until the sugar absorbs the butter. Add egg, orange extract and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. It’s okay if there are a couple pockets of flour. That will disappear when you add the chocolate and nuts.
- Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared baking pan. The batter will be thick, but can be spread with an offset spatula.
- Bake bars for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden and shiny. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Use parchment paper to lift bars out of pan before frosting.
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and orange extract until fluffy. Add confectioners sugar and mix until combined.
- Spread frosting over cooled bars. Sprinkle dried cranberries and orange zest on top of frosting.
- For the white chocolate drizzle, melt white chocolate in the microwave at 50% power level, stopping to stir every 20 seconds until melted. Keep a close eye on the white chocolate as it burns easily. You can always use a double boiler if preferred. Use a spoon to drizzle white chocolate over the bars.
- To cut the bars, cut into 3 columns and 3 rows. Then cut each square diagonally to form triangles.