Cranberry Orange Blondies (Copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars)

by Denielle B

Have you been craving one of those delicious cranberry orange bliss bars from Starbucks but don’t want to drop five bucks every time the craving hits? I’ve got you covered with this easy recipe for homemade cranberry orange blondies that taste just like the real thing. All you need is about 30 minutes and a few ingredients to whip up a pan of these festive blondies that your friends and family will devour. The sweet tang of dried cranberries and bright citrus zest are balanced perfectly by creamy white chocolate chips for a bar that’s bursting with holiday flavor in every bite. It’s kinda like my cranberry orange shortbread cookies, but made even more indulgent with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate drizzle. Skip the coffee shop line and bake up a batch of these cranberry orange white chocolate blondies for a seasonal treat you’ll want to make all year long.

The original

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.

cranberry orange blondies or cranberry bliss bars

How to make these cranberry orange blondies

To make these festive blondies, you’ll only the following ingredients:

Blondie base
  • 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
Topping
  • 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*

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line an 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the melted butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy using a hand mixer, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined. 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.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, until the edges are light brown. 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. Meanwhile, chop the dried cranberries and set aside.

Then, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside. *Please note that 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.  

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!

Storing and serving your blondies

Once your cranberry orange blondies have cooled completely, it’s time to store and serve them! If you manage to not inhale these when you make them, they should last up to 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. For longer storage, place individual blondies in ziplock freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before enjoying.

When ready to serve, arrange blondies on a platter or cake stand and garnish as desired. Here are some suggestions:

  • Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a holiday inspired sundae.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a sweet, snowy effect.
  • Garnish with fresh orange slices and white chocolate shavings.
  • For an extra special treat, warm individual blondies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before serving à la mode. The melted white chocolate is divine!
  • Package blondies in festive bags, boxes or tins to give as homemade holiday gifts. Your friends and family will surely appreciate these crowd-pleasing confections.

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 orange blondie bars are fairly rich, they pair really well with my Instant Pot orange cider.

Whether enjoying your blondies freshly baked, straight from the freezer, or dressed up for the holidays, the combination of tart cranberries, bright orange and creamy white chocolate is sure to spread some seasonal cheer. Happy baking and happy holidays!


Tools you’ll need

cranberry orange blondies or cranberry bliss bars

Copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars

Serves: 16 bars Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 5 voted )

Ingredients

Blondie base
  • 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
Topping
  • 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*

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Spread the blondie batter evenly onto a parchment-lined 9x13 baking sheet or dish. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. Chop the dried cranberries and set aside. Then, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Notes

*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.  

Did You Make This Recipe?
How did it go? Tag me on Instagram at @hungrylittleasiangirl.
cranberry orange blondies or cranberry bliss bars

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