Cranberry Bliss Bars – A Starbucks Clone

If you are a fan of Cranberry Bliss Bars, the seasonal Starbucks offering, here’s a little Christmas gift from me to you.  It’s a copycat recipe that’s better than the original!

Am I the only one who thinks that Starbucks desserts look a lot better than they taste?  Whenever they offer a new dessert, I have to try it—and, inevitably, I am disappointed.  In the case of their Cranberry Bliss Bars, I think they’re OK, not great.  That assessment, at least, is an improvement over the one I had for their cream cheese pumpkin muffins (not a fan).  My copycat recipe for the pumpkin muffin, however, is out of this world.

But, back to these bars…they have a dense, moist blondie base which is studded with dried cranberries and broken hunks of white chocolate which are delightful to bite into.  The bars are then covered with a cream cheese frosting with fresh orange rind.  It is then sprinkled with more dried cranberries and then drizzled with white chocolate.  When I took a bite, it was clear that here was a recipe that definitely deserves the word “bliss” in its title.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all…

One year ago:  The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Two years ago:  Pepparkakor Cookies, Swedish Limpa Rye Bread

Cranberry Bliss Bars – A Starbucks Clone

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Ingredients for the Blondies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Ingredients for the Frosting and Garnish

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 4 oz. white baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×11-inch baking pan* with cooking spray or butter.

*Sorry about the odd-sized baking pan which is called for in the original recipe.  I happen to have that size, but I know it’s not common.  The batter is thick enough, however, that you could make a dam out of aluminum foil and use it to shorten a 9×13-inch pan.  I imagine you could use a 9×13 pan without a dam, but the bars will be thinner and will likely not have the same texture as the thicker bars baked in a 9×11 pan will have.  In addition, you’d have to make a bit more frosting or the coverage will be very thin.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves together in a medium bowl; set aside.

To make the blondies:  Melt the butter and stir in all of the sugar until the butter has completely incorporated; let the mixture cool to room temperature.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed until the eggs have been incorporated.  With the mixer on low, gradually stir in the dry ingredients until no evidence of flour remains.  The batter will be very thick.  Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate until they are dispersed.

Dump the batter to the prepared baking pan and with your hands; flatten it out (without mashing it) into the pan.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown.  Let the pan cool on a wire rack until the blondies are completely cool.

To make the frosting:  Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until combined, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the orange zest.

To assemble:  Remove the uncut blondies from the pan and place the whole piece on a large cutting board.

Spread the frosting evenly over the blondies (an offset spatula works great here) right out to the edges.  Sprinkle the cranberries over the frosting.  Drizzle the white chocolate over the cranberries and frosting – don’t worry about being too neat in your drizzling here.

Before cutting, transfer the blondies on the board to the refrigerator to allow the frosting to set up for 30 minutes.  Cut the blondies lengthwise into thirds; then cut each third into four squares.  Cut each square diagonally in half into triangles.  You can cut the triangles in half again if you want/need more bars. These bars can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days but they last better in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.  Serve right from the refrigerator or slightly warmed to room temperature.  Yield: 24 to 48 bars

Source:  A recipe from Smells Like Home

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