Easy cranberry bliss bars with a spiced cookie bar base mixed with tart dried cranberries and creamy white chocolate chips are even more delicious than the original Starbucks bakery treat.
When you're in the mood for a little fall baking, is there anything more delicious than a copycat Starbucks cranberry bliss bar??
A sweetly spiced cookie bar base has dried cranberries and white chocolate chips folded into the dough.
Smooth cream cheese icing is decorated with a sprinkle of more chopped cranberries and an easy white chocolate drizzle.
This make ahead dessert is perfect for bringing to a holiday potluck or party!
Why This is the Best Recipe
I love baking dessert bars during the holiday season, I think this is the best cranberry bliss bars recipe because:
- Just Like Starbucks: This copycat recipe tastes even better than the cranberry bliss bars at Starbucks because they are so fresh.
- Easy to Bake: This would be a great recipe to bake with the kids, the cookie base comes together quickly and the icing is easy to do.
- Make Ahead Friendly: These hearty bars will keep so well in the fridge for several days so you can get your holiday baking done early.
- So Elegant: That white chocolate drizzle on the top is so pretty but you'll love how easy it is to do.
This easy cookie bar recipe needs a few simple ingredients:
- Dried Cranberries: Fresh cranberries will add too much juice to the recipe, it is best to stick with dried fruit.
- White Chocolate Chips: You'll need enough for stirring into the cookie bars and for melting to drizzle over the top.
- Cream Cheese: This forms the base for the icing on top.
- Butter: I used salted butter. If you use unsalted butter for baking, add just a pinch more salt to the batter.
- Brown Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Baking Powder
- Ground Ginger
- Ground Nutmeg
Make the Cookie Bar Dough
First, grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with a bit of cooking spray.
To prepare the cookie bar dough, place the softened butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat them together with a hand mixer on medium high speed until they are well combined and light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and just one egg. Beat them in until just combined. Then add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating them in after each addition.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add the mixture to the cookie dough and beat it in until just combined.
Mix in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. You may find this easier to do by hand.
Spread the cookie dough into the prepared baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the cookie bars for 25 minutes or until they are golden brown on the top like this:
Let cool completely before decorating or the icing will get runny.
Make the Frosting
Once the cookie bars are completely cooled, it is time to decorate them.
Start by adding the softened cream cheese, vanilla extract, and lemon juice to your mixing bowl. Beat them in until well combined.
Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed to combine and then on medium-high speed to make it fluffier.
Spread the icing over the top of the cookie bars.
Immediately sprinkle chopped dried cranberries over the top, you'll want to do this before the icing sets or they won't stick.
Drizzle the Melted White Chocolate
The final touch is a drizzle of white chocolate over the top. This is what makes the dessert bars feel especially festive and elegant.
Add chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl. Heat them in the microwave on HIGH for just 30 seconds.
Stir the chocolate chips well and then heat them in 15 second increments stirring really well after each session.
You will likely need less than a minute total, once they start to melt the stirring will help smooth them out.
Be careful to not overcook them or they'll seize up.
Use a fork dipped in the melted white chocolate to drizzle it over the top of the dried cranberries.
Let the white chocolate set up for 1 hour before slicing and serving.
These cranberry bliss bars are just like the ones you find at Starbucks' bakery but it would be an easy recipe to make simple variations:
Cranberry Walnut Bars: Stir in ½ cup of chopped walnuts to the cookie bars dough before baking.
Cranberry Chocolate Chip Bars: White chocolate looks so wintery and festive, but if you prefer regular bittersweet chocolate chips they'd taste great here, too.
Cranberry Orange Bars: Use fresh orange juice instead of lemon juice and add chopped candied orange pieces to the cookie dough bars.
Cranberry Pistachio Bars: For an especially pretty red and green Christmas theme, add chopped green pistachios to the top of the icing with the chopped dried cranberries. Then drizzle the white chocolate over the top.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Cranberry bliss bars are so popular because they are a perfect make ahead dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
They will keep well in your fridge for up to 5 days. Just cover the baking container with foil or a lid to keep them fresh.
If you want to freeze the dessert bars, I would recommend baking just the cookie dough base and waiting to frost them with the icing and drizzled white chocolate until just before you serve them.
You could freeze the pan of cookie bars for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Then frost them with icing, decorate them, and let them set before you slice them.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy! These cranberry bliss bars are a wonderful treat to enjoy any time during the fall or winter.
Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the Cranberry Bars
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened, plus 1 tablespoon for the baking pan
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cup flour plus 1 tablespoon for the baking pan
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- ½ cup dried cranberries
For the Icing
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup dried cranberries chopped
For the Final Drizzle
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of softened butter and dust with 1 tablespoon of flour, set aside.
- Add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Beat them together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and one egg at a time. Beat the eggs in until just combined before adding the next egg.
- Add the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir it into the batter until just combined.
- Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan and smooth into a nice even layer.
- Bake the cranberry bars for 25 minutes or until just light golden brown. Let cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, add the cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. Beat them together with a hand mixer until well blended.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until just blended. Spread the frosting over the cooled cranberry bars and immediately add the chopped cranberries so they stick before the frosting sets.
- Finally, melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave on HIGH in 30 second increments, stirring between each session. Do not overcook! Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the cranberry bars.
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