How has your bliss level been lately? Mine has improved significantly since making these bars! Because they are so good, I can’t stop eating them, and I am now full of bliss (bars)!:) These are a copycat recipe of Starbucks’ bars of the same name. I discovered these bars a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Only the last few times I was at Starbucks, they were all gone. Apparently there are other blissful people out there. Not to mention that it is a seasonal item, so if you are not there right after they get their shipment or on the exact right days on the calendar, you are out of luck. That is not a problem anymore. These bars can be made in less than an hour! I am not normally a person who likes fruity desserts. I usually would rather have dark chocolate or vanilla if I am going to have something sweet. I don’t know if it is the cream cheese frosting or…yeah, that’s probably it now that I think about it. Frosting and I are best friends. We always have been. So the fact that these bars are a tiny bit fruity and not chocolaty is fine with me. Because, like I said…cream cheese frosting!
And actually they do contain chocolate. White chocolate that is. Just be sure if you make these that you taste the white chocolate first and you like the flavor. I have been so surprised at how different each bag of white chocolate tastes. For me, I like Trader Joe’s brand. Sometimes, the most expensive white chocolate doesn’t taste the best. The base of the bar, which is actually a type of blondie, is loaded full of white chocolate chips, there is melted white chocolate in the frosting, and a white chocolate drizzle on top, so make sure you are good with the ones you buy.
Also, make sure you don’t over-bake these. Part of the reason they are so delicious is that the bar pretty much melts in your mouth. If you bake them too long, they will be more crunchy and just won’t be the same. I thought maybe I had taken them out of the oven too soon as the top was just barely set, kind of like an under-baked chocolate chip cookie. But after placing them in the refrigerator to cool, they set up beautifully and were easy to cut. With Thanksgiving being late in the month this year, Christmas will be upon us before we know it. With their pretty red and white color these bars would be great on a holiday dessert table or even to give as gifts to friends or neighbors. The fact that they are so quick to make is such a bonus. And they keep well in the refrigerator so you can make them a few days ahead of time if you need to. If you like Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars you will love these, and if you haven’t tried them, you are in for a real treat. And a lot of bliss. Perfect for the holiday season!
Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the Bars:
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- 1 large egg
- 1 c light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c white chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
- 1/2 c dried cranberries or Craisins, loosely packed (I used Craisins)
- 1/2 tsp. orange zest
For the Frosting and Topping:
- 1 c white chocolate chips, melted and divided
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c powdered sugar
- 1/4 c dried cranberries or Craisins, loosely packed (dice them smaller if the pieces are large)
For the Bars:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 30-60 seconds. Allow to cool slightly so you don’t scramble the egg that you are going to add next.
- To the melted and cooled butter, add the brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and stir to combine.
- Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or the bars will be tough.
- Fold in 3/4 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup cranberries, orange zest, and stir to combine.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula or offset knife if necessary.
- Bake for 18 to 21 minutes (I took mine out at 18), and center is just set and edges begin to slightly pull away from sides of pan. Do not over bake. Allow bars to cool before frosting them. When they are almost cooled, make the frosting.
For the Frosting and Topping:
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate for 30 seconds, stir, and reheat at 10 second intervals, stirring after each one until chocolate is melted. IMPORTANT: White chocolate can scorch easily so melt it very carefully, and slowly, at 10 second intervals, checking and stirring after each time in the microwave.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, 3/4 c of the melted white chocolate, the powdered sugar, vanilla, and beat until smooth and fluffy. Start by mixing on low-speed so the sugar doesn’t spray, and then beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. Mixture will seem stiff at first but will loosen and fluff up after 2 to 3 minutes of beating on medium-high. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Frost the bars.
- While frosting is still soft, evenly sprinkle 1/2 c cranberries over the top of the frosted bars.
- Evenly drizzle bars with remaining melted white chocolate, reheating for a few seconds in the microwave if it has become too thick to drizzle. I placed the frosting in a small plastic baggy and then snipped a hole at one end to make it easier to drizzle.
- Allow bars to set up for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Refrigerate any leftovers. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found on Averie Cooks