Monday, November 16, 2015

DIY Cranberry Bliss Bars

I just realized after doing my post about Salsa, how COOL it is to do things yourself. Why buy salsa from the store when you really have no idea what's in it? Why buy something that is SO easy to make yourself? So, be ready folks. You may find a new series has developed over here at Karen's Place, and it's called 'DO IT YOURSELF!' 

Okay, as you can tell by all the CAPS, I'm excited about this idea. And here's the next installment. 

I have been spending a lot of time in Starbucks lately. Not because I especially love their coffee. It is because in the new suburb digs I live in, that's the only coffee house they will accept. Also, it is not because I MUST have coffee made by someone else. The real reason is that I have no internet in my new place, currently. Hopefully that is going to change this week, and then I'll be back to blogging at home. 

So, since I have been blogging and editing from a Starbucks for the last two months. I found myself there last week while I made the Salsa post. Just as I am doing the same now for this post. And while I drank my Americano from a controversial red cup, I noticed that the change of cups also brought also a change in the drinks and snacks menu. Next to the egg nog lattes and other sugary excuses for coffee, there it favorite indulgence... the beloved Cranberry Bliss Bar. 

I was so excited that I almost went back to the counter to order myself one. But then I realized. I could totally do this myself. It's really just a blondie with cranberries and cream cheese frosting. So after I finished last week's post, I found a recipe I liked, thought about changes I would make, and went to the store. 

And you can make it too! This recipe is really, really good. It's sweet, and definitely an indulgence. But save your $3.75, make this for yourself and share the rest with friends and family this holiday season.  

Cranberry Bliss Bars
Adapted from

(for the bars...)2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 teaspoons Orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (freshly grated would be fantastic, too)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts 
(for the frosting)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened 
  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Splash of milk, if needed (aka...if the frosting is too thick)
(for the topping)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries 
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon 
  • 1/3 cup melted white chocolate chips (add a capful of vegetable oil when melting)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 for a glass or dark pan). Prepare a 9x13 by lining it with parchment paper or use a non-stick spray.
  • BARS: Beat together softened butter and sugars 3-5 minutes until light; gently blend in eggs and the extracts. Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly. Add the cranberries and chips, stirring just until incorporated.
  • Spread thick batter in prepared 9x13 pan. Bake 350 for 24-28 minutes until light brown at the edges. Cool completely. 
  • FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the extracts and confectioners sugar and beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (adding 1 t. milk if needed). Spread evenly over COOLED bars.
  • GARNISH: Zest your lemon over the bars. Chop 1/3 cup dried cranberries coarsely; sprinkle over frosted bars. If you have leftover hazelnuts, I'd sprinkle those over everything, too!
  • DRIZZLE: Mix white chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup. Microwave 1 minute; stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Use a fork or whisk to drizzle the white chocolate diagonally across the bars.

Get some coffee in your cup and enjoy these babies!
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what did you like about this post? what would you add? did you try it? I want to know!