These blondie bars are the perfect holiday dessert with the classic flavor combination of dried cranberries, orange zest, and white chocolate! This recipe is a copycat of the cranberry bliss bars favorite from Starbucks. It’s kinda like my cranberry orange shortbread cookies, but made even more indulgent with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate drizzle.
The cranberry bliss bars are originally from Starbucks, and a part of their seasonal holiday menu. So what is it? It’s basically a blondie bar with dried cranberries, spices, orange zest, and white chocolate, topped with cream cheese icing, more dried cranberries and white chocolate drizzle.
It’s really good, but a little too sweet for my taste. I always end up just getting a bite because it becomes too cloyingly sweet. I wanted to see if I can remake it with significantly less sugar, and still maintain its richness. Besides the sugar, my recipe produces a slightly chewier blondie base.
Tools you’ll need
- 275 g all-purpose flour
- 173 g melted butter
- 195 g brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of half an orange
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- zest of half an orange
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup white chocolate, melted*
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a hand mixer, combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs and mix until everything is fairly homogenous. Then, add the vanilla extract and orange zest and mix again until well-combined.
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, and salt) into the wet ingredients and mix until there are no more dry flour-y spots. Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the batter.
- Spread the blondie batter evenly onto a parchment-lined 9x13 baking sheet or dish. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
- While the blondie base bakes, mix the softened cream cheese with orange zest, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar until you have a frosting-like consistency. Set the frosting aside for now.
- Chop the dried cranberries and set aside. Then, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside.
- After the blondie base bakes, let it cool for about 30 minutes. Mine took a shorter time to cool since I use this convenient portable fan my husband got me one Christmas.
- Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly on the blondie base. Top with the chopped dried cranberries. Lastly, drizzle the melted white chocolate on top. Cut into portions and serve!
*White chocolate has a lower melting point than most chocolates, so it's hard to microwave it unless you have time to spare. Microwave is too hot unless you're doing it 10 seconds at a time, and that sounds too tedious. If the heat is too hot, the white chocolate will not melt, and will seize up instead. The best and most reliable way to melt white chocolate is via a double boiler. Boil water in a small pot, then put the white chocolate in a pyrex bowl that can sit on top of the pot without the bottom of the bowl touching the boiling water.
Best eaten when…
I actually like these better when they’ve been in the fridge for a bit. The texture becomes more like a cross between a brownie and a scone. And because these cranberry bliss bars are fairly rich, they pair really well with my Instant Pot orange cider. If you manage to not inhale these when you make them, they should last up to three days in the fridge.
// ON THE SCENE
- Bottom backdrop: Replica Surfaces — Cement
- Props: safety grater, vintage book pages, artificial flowers