Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 but has since been updated with revisions for clarity and to include shiny new photos.
I have this problem. I crave Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars 75% of the year, but they’re only available for around 17% of each year. And since I refuse to participate in anything Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving, that docks me a few weeks as well. So really, it’s more like 10% of the year that my craving and my chances to actually get it match up. Actually… that’s just one part of my problem.
The other part of my problem is the cost. Almost $3 for a single triangle! Too rich for my blood. Essentially, I end up getting it once during the first week of December and then I never get it again because I can’t justify the cost to myself. My wallet thanks me, but my grumbling stomach and drooling mouth don’t.
And then I finally thought to myself, “What if I just made my own? How hard could it be?” Well… it wasn’t that hard, but there was a decent amount of trial and error. And you know what? THEY’RE PERFECT. Okay, fine – maybe they’re not perfect. But they’re as close to being perfect as anything can be. I believe my exact words after I took a bite was, “I’m f***ing awesome.” And I’m fairly confident I heard angels singing.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: DON’T SHOVE THE BATTER IN YOUR MOUTH. I know it’s going to be difficult, but try your best not to do it. Okay? Oh, c’mon. Don’t make that face. Alright, fine – one spoonful. Good? Are you done? Okay, let’s move on.
I think the keys are the ginger, orange peel, and orange extract. It ended up being quite a few steps and a fair amount of dirty dishes, but it is so worth it. I promise you. I’m torn between whether I want to eat them all myself, or bring some in to my office to brag a little bit. It’s a tough decision. It is the holidays, so I guess I should be nice. But… food.
While I contemplate my decision, I’m going to go cut myself yet another piece and make yummy noises to myself while I devour it. Omnomnomnom…
Copycat Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars
My version of Starbucks' white chocolate and cranberry treat - save money and get just as much holiday flavor by making Cranberry Bliss Bars at home!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12-18 servings
Blondie Bar Layer:
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted
- 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 6 ounces white chocolate chips
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel cheese)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 6 ounces white chocolate chips, melted
- ½ cup dried cranberries, halved
Blondie Bar Layer:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, mix melted butter and brown sugar - it should be the texture of wet sand. Add eggs, vanilla and orange extract. Beat well with an electric mixer.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- Gradually add the dry mixture to wet mixture.
- Put the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and pop it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, just enough to soften them but not enough to melt them. Stir the cranberries and white chocolate chips into the batter.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
- While the bars are cooling... in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and grated orange peel.
- Add ½ of the melted white chocolate and beat well. Taste it at this point - if you think you'd like it a little sweeter or a little more orange-y, add small amounts and keep tasting until it's what you want.
- Frost bars with a spatula and sprinkle cranberries on top. Pour your remaining white chocolate into a piping bag (or a heavy-duty plastic baggie and cut off a little bit of the corner). You may need to reheat the white chocolate a little to get it fluid again. Drizzle remaining melted white chocolate on top. Let set and cool in fridge.
- Once cooled, cut into 6 large squares, then cut each diagonally to form triangles. If you want smaller (read: more reasonably-sized) pieces, you can either cut each triangle in half again, or cut it into 9 large squares and cut those triangles in half to create 18 triangles.