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Orange Cranberry Bliss Bars – Oh Sweet Basil

Orange and cranberry go together like pb and j or better yet, like pb and chocolate! These orange cranberry blondies are so soft and chewy. It’s like Christmas in your mouth!

There’s just something about the tartness of the cranberries with the tanginess of the orange all together with the sweetness of the blonde brownie and frosting that makes for one blissful bite!

Speaking of Things that Go Together…

Oranges and cranberries are foods that go together. Just like certain foods taste better together, I believe that some people are better together too. So much about being a mother is hard! Is anyone out there with me? It’s hard to sacrifice so much so constantly, but it’s worth it.

I was having a conversation with a friend about going to the park the other day. I secretly hate going to the park (I know, worst mom ever!). I don’t want to try the monkey bars. I don’t want to play pirates. I don’t want to climb up the slide.

And then there is the imaginative play! I can’t do it! I don’t know what it is, but it’s actually physically and mentally impossible for me. Cade can do pretend play for hours. I don’t know how he does it. I can’t even think of one single thing to say! “Hello car, what’s your name” that’s all I got.

So anyway, about going to the park, I don’t want to go, but I go. And sometimes when he asks to play, I give myself a set time, maybe only 10 minutes (he’s always going to want more, but alas) and then I tell him I love him and that I have to finish something else, but thank you for wanting to be with me.

Okay, back to this recipe…you obviously need oranges and cranberries (craisins) to make these blondies, but pretty much everything else, you’ll likely already have in the fridge or pantry. Here’s your ingredients list so you know where you will need to fill in the gaps:

For the Bars

  • Butter – unsalted is preferred and you’ll melt it which will keep the bars nice and dense but still tender
  • Brown Sugar – adds richness and sweetness
  • White Sugar – add sweetness
  • Cream Cheese – the secret to keeping these blondies soft and chewy, make sure it is softened
  • Eggs – gives the bars structure and richness, the extra yolk is all about richness
  • Orange Zest – use a microplane to zest one orange, the zest of an orange has so much flavor
  • Orange Extract – a little extra concentrated orange flavor
  • Vanilla – adds flavor
  • Flour – good ol’ all purpose does the trick just fine
  • Cornstarch – keeps the bars tender and chewy
  • Baking Powder – adds rise and fluffiness to the bars
  • Salt – enhances the flavor and cuts through the sweetness
  • White Chocolate Chips – adds the perfect creaminess and texture to the bars and makes them so pretty with the little drizzle on top
  • Craisins – I add the craisins to the batter and sprinkle some on top

For the Frosting

  • Cream Cheese – I always go with Philadelphia brand, it’s just the best, make sure it is softened
  • Powdered Sugar – adds all the sweetness to the frosting
  • Vanilla – adds flavor
  • Orange Extract – adds a hit of citrus flavor to the frosting
  • Craisins – roughly chop them and sprinkle them on top
  • White Chocolate – melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals and then drizzle it all over the top

The measurements for every ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. You can also print or save the recipe there.

The Secret Ingredient

Add a little cream cheese to the blondies base recipe. This higher fat content will not evaporate out water like butter does and your blonde brownie will end up light and chewy and hold up better if you need to make it ahead or store it.

How to Cut Orange Cranberry Bliss Bars

I like to cut these bars into large squares and then I cut each square diagonally so that they are triangles. They look extra pretty in triangles. That’s just my personal opinion, but feel free to cut them however you want.

Can You Use Real Orange Juice Instead of Extract?

No, orange juice will add too much liquid. You’ll find orange extract by the vanilla extract, almond extract, etc. which is usually by the spices at the grocery store.

a photo of two orange cranberry bliss bars that have been cut into triangles and then stacked on top of each other so you can see the cross section of the blondies.

Could I Use Dark Chocolate Chips and Dark Chocolate Drizzle?

Absolutely, if you love the combination of fruit with chocolate, then go for it 100%!

Are Cranberry Bliss Bars Seasonal?

You often associate cranberries with Thanksgiving or Christmas so they could be considered seasonal, but these blondies could be made any time of year. Since you use craisins for these bars, those can be bought any time of the year. They make a great holiday treat, but you can find all the ingredients you need year round.

Are the Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars Good?

In my opinion, the homemade version is better because they aren’t dried out. Homemade is already better, right?!

a photo of several orange cranberry bliss bars that have been cut into triangles and are stacked on each other. they are drizzled with a white chocolate drizzle and topped with dried cranberries.

Can Orange Cranberry Bliss Bars Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes they can be made 24 hours in advance. I like to frost them and add the craisins and white chocolate drizzle on top right before serving so they look bright and fresh.

How Long Do Cranberry Bliss Bars Keep?

Keep these bars in an airtight contain in the refrigerator. They will last for up to 5 days.

How to Freeze Blonde Brownies

Prepare the bars and slice as directed. Place the bars in the refrigerator for at least four hours to set the frosting and chocolate. Cover tightly in a container with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the bars overnight in the refrigerator before serving to guests. I actually prefer to wait on the cranberries and white chocolate just so that they are vibrant and fresh and the chocolate doesn’t end up mangled.

Orange cranberry bliss bars are tender and chewy blonde brownies with the perfect hint of orangeness (I can’t believe that’s an actual word!) that are loaded with white chocolate chips and cranberries and topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting and white chocolate drizzle. Perfect for your next holiday gathering!

More Festive Bar Desserts:

Servings: 16

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Prevent your screen from going dark

For the Bars

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Mix the butter and sugars for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and egg yolk and mix again.

  • Add the remaining two eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

  • Whisk all dry ingredients together and add to the bowl.

  • When almost incorporated add the craisins and white chocolate chips, stir and press into a greased and parchment lined 8×11 or 9×13 pan.

  • Bake 25-30 min.

  • Cool for about 10 minutes then place in the fridge. Remove after 1 hour or when cooled without becoming cold. *see note

  • As the bars cool, prepare the frosting.

For the Frosting

  • Beat everyhing together and once the bars are cooled completely spread over the top.

  • Sprinkle on the chopped craisins and drizzle with the melted white chocolate.

  • Serve immediately or store covered in the fridge until 30 min before serving.

Don’t let them stay in the fridge. If needed, remove to the counter and over tightly with foil.

Serving: 1barCalories: 479kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 5gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 312mgPotassium: 161mgFiber: 1gSugar: 54gVitamin A: 570IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 1mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: 100 Best Brownies and Bars Recipes

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