Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sweet Bliss

I first saw these Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks (they are seasonal so if you haven't seen them lately, that's why). They immediately caught my attention. They were calling my name but alas... I have a hard time bringing myself to buy such over-priced baked goods. So, I asked around at work to see if anyone had tried them to see if they were worth trying to make on my own. One of my co-workers raved about them, so I knew I had to find a good copycat recipe. I found a few different recipes online but ultimately, this one sounded the best.

I made a few changes to the recipe. I used orange juice instead of lemon juice because orange and cranberry seem like a better combination to me than lemon and cranberry. I also added some candied ginger based on some reviews I read, indicating that the Starbucks version does have a stronger ginger flavor to it. Lastly, to try to make these as authentic as possible, I used a white chocolate drizzle on top (like Starbucks does) instead of the icing that is called for in the recipe. My co-worker said these looked exactly like the ones at Starbucks. She said that they do not taste exactly like the Starbucks version, but they taste better :) That's good enough for me!

I love these bars! I must admit that they are very sweet... but they are oh so delicious! You may want to consider cutting them into smaller pieces (since they're so sweet). The cranberry and white chocolate combination is so good (if you enjoy cranberry and white chocolate, try these cookies). The candied ginger was definitely a nice addition. It is subtle and you only notice it if you are looking for it. I love cranberries and believe they should be eaten year round, not just around the holidays. So I'm happy that I can make these year-round now :)

* Update (Dec. 2008): I finally got my hands on one of these at Starbucks and I have to say that while these look just like the Starbucks version, they don't taste a whole lot like them. That's not bad, though, because I definitely prefer this homemade version. It has a better flavor to it and I like the hint of ginger in it. Just wanted to let you know, though, in case you were looking for an exact copycat recipe - because this isn't it.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

1 cup butter , softened
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar , packed
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla or orange extract
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups All Purpose flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries
6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
2 tbsp candied ginger, minced

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese)
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp lemon juice or 2 tsp orange extract (I used 4 tsp orange juice)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup diced dried cranberries

Drizzled Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp vegetable shortening
orange zest , garnish (optional)
(Instead of this icing, I used melted white chocolate instead - approximately 2 ounces of chocolate with 1/4 tsp shortening)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt; beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth.

Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. (If using the candied ginger, add it during this step.)

Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Let cool.

Frosting: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.

When the cake has cooled, spread frosting over the top of cake. Sprinkle top with diced cranberries.

Icing: Whisk powdered sugar, milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip.
(Alternatively, melt the white chocolate and shortening in a ziploc bag on low heat in the microwave. Cut a small hole in the corner of the ziploc bag and drizzle chocolate over the top of the cake.)

Allow cake to sit for several hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally, creating 16 triangular slices.

Yield: 16 servings.


  1. Those look so good! I have not had one of those bars forever. I will give this recipe a try. Thanks for what looks like another winner!

  2. Those look delicious! I definitely want to give these a try!

  3. That looks incredible! Absolutely delicious!!

  4. I said WOW at least 5 times while looking at this post. You did a great job- they look and sound fantastic!

  5. Oh yum! I love cranberries, and this looks so good.

  6. Please come make these for me and I'll be your best friend! Your super best friend!

  7. Those look good. You know, so many people say good things about them and I have never even seen them at Starbucks and I live in the land of Starbucks!

  8. Mmmm! It's been a while since I've used cranberries, this looks and sounds like a great recipe! Beautiful pics too!

  9. i worked at starbucks for a few years and served (and ate) more than my fair share of cranberry bliss bars. your version is practically an exact replica--nicely done! i'm super impressed...and very much craving one right now. :)

  10. I love the cranberry bliss bars at Starbucks! I can't wait to try these!

  11. These look absolutely heavenly!!!

  12. I'm starving and those look fab!

  13. Those look just delicious! I definitely need to bust out the cranberries and bake with them I love all your helpful amendments to the recipe too, very helpful!

  14. These look oh so delicious!! I have to admit I have not seen them at Starbucks, but now that I know about them I'll probably try making them!

  15. How gorgeous. To tell you how truly unjust the world is . . . I am allergic to cranberries! ARRRGH!

    They look amazing, though. Eat a little piece for me, o.k.? :)

  16. This looks fantastic! I'm going to have to make this for my SS class one week! A definite to-try.

  17. Jaime! These are amazing!!!! Cranberry bliss bars are my husbands favorite treat, hands down. These don't even look like a knockoff, they look like the real thing! I want to make them but I'm too scared I can't make them as well as you did! wow.

  18. That looks so amazing! White chocolate and cranberries are one of my favorite combos! The cream cheese frosting sends this way over the top! Bookmarked to try!

  19. Mmmmm I've been wanting to try out this recipe for at least a year! Yours look delicious.

  20. Those look fabulous! Definitely going to try them. Thanks for sharing!

  21. They are beautiful! So much better to make them than to spend a fortune on them at Starbucks!

  22. This looks so yummy! Even though I'm not a big fan of white chocolate on its own, I've recently discovered that white chocolate & cranberries are wonderful together!

  23. Will you mail me some??? :(

    If it makes you feel even worse it was my birthday.. and this looks really really good!!!!!

    oh yumm..

    Now I'm totally craving this..

  24. Your risotto looks great, but I had to comment on these bars.
    They look great!
    I love cloning recipes. I'll have to try these, for sure.

  25. I think I have just found out what I'm gonna make with the other bag of cranberries I got as a gift... ;)

  26. We never buy sweets at Starbucks because it does seem pretty expensive to us too. This looks delicious, thanks for the recipe!

  27. This is a WONDERFUL recipe!! I've never had starbuck's bars but we fell in love with these!

  28. thanks candace! i'm glad you liked them :)

  29. oh my gosh yours look exactly like the starbucks treat! I need to make these!

  30. Hi!
    I hopped over from foodgawker! How weird that this was posted in Feb. Your bars look great! Love all that frosting!

    Btw, I agree about paying for desserts. My son and I stopped at Panera's the other night and though everything looked great I couldn't bring myself to buy anything.

  31. I have made these and they are decadent for sure - but don't taste like Starbucks. They're too sweet for me! I am going to try them without the cranberries and white chocolate in the cake and see if that makes a difference. I'll let you know!

  32. anonymous - i actually just recently had these at Starbucks for the first time and I agree - they don't taste exactly like them...but I think these are actually better than the Starbucks ones. I agree that they are REALLY sweet but I usually cut them into smaller pieces so it isn't so sweet. Don't leave out the cranberries, those are so good...if anything, cut back on the white chocolate...

  33. Hmmm....just tried them without the white chocolate, and still not like the ones at Starbucks. Much less sweet, though! I definitely like them better. I'm from Canada. I wonder if they are made differently here?

  34. anonymous - that's good to know. i'm not sure if they are different in Canada vs the US but as i stated in my last response, i didn't realize they don't taste exactly like Starbucks until this year, when i first tried them. i don't think there is ginger in the Starbucks version. not sure what else might be different. regardless, i still love these and hope you enjoy them too :)

  35. Jaime,

    I featured your Cranberry Bliss Bars on the Weekend Blog Showcase. I made them for a cookie exchange and incorporated all your excellent tips. They were WONDERFUL! Thank you!

    PS...I may have to see if my Starbucks has the real deal for comparison :)