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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bliss Bars

My mom loves Starbuck's seasonal cranberry bliss bars, but unfortunately she recently has become sensitive to wheat gluten. For Christmas, I set about researching how to make some gluten-free bars.

In case you haven't heard of the Starbuck's cranberry bliss bar, it is only available around Christmas and it seems to be one of the most universally beloved baked goods they offer. Cranberries, cream cheese frosting, and chunks of white chocolate make for a nice balance of sweet, savory, and tart.

My mom is a sucker for anything cranberry, so this is a guilty pleasure for my mother, and she is very tempted every holiday season. Much to my mother's surprise, there is actually tons of reliable copy-cat recipes posted on the internet already. However, I was looking for a jumping-off point that I could use to make a gluten free recipe. And a good gluten-free flour to use. On a suggestion, I picked up a bag of Cup4Cup from William's Sonoma. On the record, this isn't a sponsored push for the product, but I was exceedingly pleased with the results.

Tragedy struck while making this recipe: while preheating the oven, my friend said, "Hey... I smell gas."

My oven has been periodically giving up on me, or taking 20 minutes to get to the proper temperature, but that day it finally officially died on me. We had to open all the windows since I was accidentally trying to gas us all to death, and I had to hope that a couple days in the fridge wouldn't harm the bar batter.

I brought it over to my parent's house to bake, and thankfully I can report that you can refrigerate the base for several days before baking, if needed. Just increase the bake time by about 10 minutes.
The batter will be thick!

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bliss Bar Copy Cat
adapted from Averie Cooks and Taste of Home

For the Base:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Cup4Cup (or your fave gluten free flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the Frosting:
8 ounces of cream cheese (one package)
1 cup of powdered sugar
5 ounces of white chocolate 
1/4 cup dried cranberries

The batter is super easy, no need to break out the mixer. Unfortunately, the frosting does take a little bit more elbow grease to mix up, so I used a mixer for that. Trust me, it's worth it. Line a 8" square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the cooled melted butter, egg, vanilla, and sugar together. Add in the flour and salt in three batches, stirring in between until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips and then spread it in the pan by using a spatula (it's really stiff). Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the center tests clean.

Let the bars cool completely before frosting them. To make the frosting, take 3 ounces of the white chocolate and melt it in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring until smooth. Beat together the sugar and cream cheese, and then gradually stir in the melted chocolate. Spread over the cooled bars, and sprinkle with the dried cranberries. Melt the remaining two ounces of chocolate, and drizzle over the top of the bars. Cut in any fashion you want, but I suggest triangles. Also, make sure to check things like the vanilla extract and the chocolate chips, because gluten additions like to hide in these things. If you're not watching the gluten, just substitute 1 cup of all purpose flour for the Cup4Cup.

See Also:
Sriracha Bar
Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia Pie


  1. I've made these at home (not the gluten free version) and have been happy with the results. Yours looks delicious.

    1. I was happy they turned out, since my mother loved these before she was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity. The other nice thing is we served them to the clueless men in our life, and they couldn't tell they were gluten-free or altered in any way.

  2. These look SO good! Since it looks more like Christmas here now than it did a month ago, I'll have to whip up a batch soon.

    1. Haha yeah these are a little late for Christmas, but since Starbucks only puts them out up until Christmas, after that is when I seem to crave them, so I made the batch later.

  3. I made these last night and used oat flour and decreased the powdered sugar to 2/3 cup and it was amazing.

    1. That's a great edit! The last time I made these bars I reduced the sugar too. It makes for a tangier icing, but it can get a little looser because the powdered sugar firms things up.