Starbucks-style gluten free cranberry bliss bars. Tender blondies packed with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries and just enough orange zest, topped with a cream cheese and thick white chocolate frosting. What could be more perfect for the holiday season?
Although there is absolutely room for difference of opinion about Starbucks coffee and “coffee” drinks, one thing's for sure: they do know how to do baked goods. They don't even serve their cranberry bliss bars in Starbucks stores any more.
That never really mattered much though. If we want it gluten free, we're gonna have to do it ourselves anyway. So, at great long last, I can finally present these festive, Starbucks-style gluten free cranberry bliss bars. What could be more perfect for the holiday season ??
Tender blondies packed with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries and just enough orange zest, topped with a cream cheese and white chocolate frosting, more dried cranberries and a generous drizzle of white chocolate. The frosting is nice and thick, too, so it slices cleanly.
There's something just so perfect about tart and tangy dried cranberries paired with sweet white chocolate. And of course you could always make these your own by switching up the mix-ins (try diced dried apricots in place of the cranberries and dark chocolate in place of white).
Love orange zest ? and want more of it? Try adding some to the frosting. Or replace orange flavor with lemon ?. Ah, the beauty of homemade holiday treats. They're always perfect for you and yours!
Festive Gluten Free Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the bars
1 3/4 cup (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1/2 cup (80 g) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (273 g) packed light brown sugar
3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting/topping
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (200 g) confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (80 g) dried cranberries, roughly chopped
Make the bars. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square pan and place one sheet of parchment paper across the pan, with the sides overhanging the edges. Grease the parchment paper and place a second sheet of parchment paper across the pan in the other direction, the sides overhanging the edges. Set the pan aside.
In a small bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda and orange zest, and whisk to combine well, breaking up any clumps of zest. Place the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries in a separate small bowl, add about 1 teaspoon of the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Set the chips and cranberries aside. In a large bowl, place the butter and beat with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar, and then the eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the chips and cranberries with the reserved dry ingredients, and mix until just evenly distributed throughout. The batter should be very thickly pourable.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached (about 28 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan.
When the bars are cool, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt, and beat on low speed until the sugar is absorbed into the cream cheese. It will clump. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until thick and creamy. Place 2 ounces of the white chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl and melt in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, until smooth. Drizzle the melted white chocolate into the cream cheese frosting and beat to combine well. Spread the frosting into an even layer on top of the cooled bars, still in the pan. Sprinkle the dried cranberries evenly over the top of the frosting and press down gently to help them adhere. Melt the remaining 2 ounces white chocolate and drizzle on top of the cranberries. Place in the refrigerator until set.
Remove from the refrigerator and remove the bars from the pan by lifting up on the overhung parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, slice the bars into 6 equal rectangles (slice the square in half, then each half into 3 equal rectangles), then slice each rectangle in half diagonally to create 12 triangles.
Becky Hunter Martin says
Deliciousness! These are a must make!
Becky Hunter Martin says
I just finished making these and they are gorgeous! They smelled so good cooking and the frosting is so good, it’s going to be hard to wait to taste the bars!
Carie CPink says
No hyperbole here! Just look at these beauties: golden brown, the slight scent of citrus wafts from the bars, the frosting eagerly awaits its throne.
Sorry neighbors…I’m not sure if these are going to cross the street tonight. They’ll be lucky to leave the kitchen!
THANK YOU FOR THIS RECIPE, I’VE BEEN WANTING TO MAKE THESE FOR YEARS!
Hi Nicole- your receipes look awesome!
I was wondering if fresh cranberries can be used?
Jennifer S. says
Interesting thought but that’s not how Starbucks does it….
question about the cream cheese cutout cookies. in the instructions you say that it only makes 18 cookies. is this a misprint? or do this recipe actually only make 18 cookies? if that’s the case i may have to double it.
Nicole Hunn says
There’s no misprint, Mena!
ok thanks for responding so quickly! i can’t wait to try them!
Alison Marie says
i just yelled out loud when I saw this. it’s a christmas miracle.
In general, when you indicate that you used Better Batter flour mix do you also add the additional xanthan gum? I believe the commercial Better Batter mix does contain it, but I’ve had varying results! Just trying to understand your methods!! Thanks!
Nicole Hunn says
Yes, mynechimki, Better Batter contains xanthan gum. Just look at the ingredients list in whatever blend you are using to see in an instant whether or not it contains xanthan gum.
THIS LOOKS SOOOO GOOOOD !!!!!!
Melissa R says
YES!!!!! I am so excited that there’s finally a GF recipe for these! I’ve been waiting for one. Thanks, Nicole!
Jennifer S. says
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I’ve been waiting these babies! Yahoo!
Be still my heart……………….You made my Christmas! Absolutely one of my all time favorite treats. And now gluten free.
Thank you Nicole. Going to make them pronto!