Cranberry Bliss

I haven’t written in forever! Sorry about that.

The good news is, I’m making it up to you. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this one- it’s not a science post but a recipe!

Anyone remember Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks? Here on the left coast (or at least my corner of it), they’re not selling them anymore- all our Starbucks stores now have bakery items from another bakery, so no more classic coffee cake, reduced fat blueberry coffee cake, cinnamon scones, chonga bagels… staples of my childhood, all of them. But there is none I loved more than Cranberry Bliss Bars.

Alas, even if they were still being sold, I could not eat them. That gingerbread crust is full of wheat, after all! What’s a nostalgic, former-Starbucks employee to do? Up until now, cry myself to sleep. But no longer, because an old friend posted the recipe on facebook and I knew I had to make it. So I converted it to gluten free and now I am sharing it with you, all three of my loyal blog readers! Behold:

cranberry bliss bars

Somebody call a code, because I’ve died and gone to heaven

Ok, the picture is a bit underwhelming. Don’t judge unless you’ve tried to take good pictures of food inside on a rainy day. Also, I’m not very good at getting even coverage of the topping cranberries.

BUT. You should still try this recipe because Cranberry Bliss Bars. That is all the reason you need. Does this recipe taste exactly like the original? To be honest, it’s been so long, I’m not sure. But that unique flavor combination: white chocolate + cranberry + gingerbread is intact. Plus, this recipe is made with butter and eggs and real sugar- the original was probably made with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Score one for these.


Adapted from this recipe by Kasey Buick. “Cranberry Bliss Bars” may or may not be trademark and copyright Starbucks, oh my gosh please don’t sue me I have no money.

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened salted butter *
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 6 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries

Cookie Instructions

  • Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between, then add ginger and vanilla extract. Scrape down bowl if necessary.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together both flours, potato starch, and xanthan gum.
  • Using a half cup-ful or so at a time, add flour mix to the creamed butter mix. Mix on low between each addition to keep too much flour from flying out of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.
  • Add cranberries and white chocolate, then spread the batter out in a well-greased 9×13 pan or casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until it gets nice and brown around the edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened (eyeball it) *
  • 2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/3 cup diced cranberries

Frosting Instructions

  • Cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. This is probably best done in a stand mixer.
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until you have a nice consistency. This should be thinner than cake frosting but not exactly liquid.
  • Taste test because it’s yummy, and to make sure it’s sweet enough. I cut down on the amount of sugar and bumped up the amount of cream cheese from the original recipe because I don’t like my frosting quite as sweet.
  • Spread over the cooled cookie and sprinkle with the cranberries. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve!
*Here’s a neat tip: if you want to soften butter or cream cheese quicker, put them on the oven rack and turn the oven light on. They soften up pretty fast and no worry of melting in the microwave! Just remember to take it out before you preheat the oven…



November Round Up

I haven’t written in more than a week, huh? I’ve been quite busy and not much in the mood to write.

Lee’s birthday was Saturday. He is officially old now, I think, and told him so several times.

For his breakfast, I made the cinnamon rolls I mentioned in the last post- they were quite good. Here’s the link again for those who missed it: The Best Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls. I was expecting to struggle a lot more with the dough- having had rather poor experiences with gluten free pastry dough in the past but I watched the video and to my amazement, the saran wrap worked perfectly to keep everything from sticking! The rolls were beautiful and unfortunately did not last long enough to get a good picture (the sun doesn’t really get high enough in the sky these days to filter into our basement apartment so it’s quite difficult to get good pictures) but I did get one with my cell phone. I’d like you guys to check out the recipe at its author’s website, but I did make some changes so I will list those here:

1. I don’t like to use “proprietary” GF flour blends because they always require you to mix up huge batches and I don’t want to waste flour because I might never use that flour blend again. So I crunched the numbers and replaced the “AP gluten free flour” (note that it also calls for an additional 1/2 cup of tapioca flour in addition to the below) with:

  • 2 2/3 cups of brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch

2. I also had only active dry yeast instead of instant, so I proofed the yeast by mixing the yeast she called for with the 1/2 cup of warm water and 1 of the tablespoons of sugar.

3. I already had a nice cream cheese maple frosting so I didn’t make the caramel topping. I don’t really like corn syrup and I try to avoid it.

For his cake, after much interrogation, Lee decided he wanted a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate frosting. The man’s got good taste! I used the same cake recipe that I used for my Earth Shaking Cupcakes but added a cup of hot water to the wet ingredients to prevent the cake from falling- a little sinkhole was ideal for the cupcakes, not so much for a layer cake. I used seedless raspberry jam for the filling and this recipe for the white chocolate buttercream. The frosting tasted good, but wasn’t as fluffy as reviewers said it would be- I attribute that to me being super impatient and adding the white chocolate before it had cooled down much. So it was a very soft frosting that hardened up almost completely in the fridge, but the flavor was good and nobody complained. I grated a fancy raspberry chocolate bar on top and made lettering using melted semisweet chocolate piped into numbers and allowed to cool, and garnished with fresh raspberries. Did not get a good picture of this because… it was gone pretty fast. Sorry!

Not much else to say. I picked up Jeanne Sauvage’s new book, Gluten Free Baking for the Holidays and have been drooling over it for a few days. She uses a flour blend, which you now all know I do not like, but she provides all her measurements in grams so you can easily just make as much flour blend as you want. I just pulled a batch of chocolate mint biscotti out of the oven to bring to another birthday party this evening and it turned out beautifully. Imagine- gluten free biscotti… mi dio! She also has a recipe for cannoli that I intend to try post haste.

I will leave you with this, which required every light in my house.