Dec 1, 2013

Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars



A blondie cookie bar with chunks of white chocolate chips and dried cranberries, topped with sweet cream cheese icing, tart dried cranberries and white chocolate drizzle  – perfect for the holidays!

I got a request this year to lighten Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Bars – this make-over turned out excellent! I was able to cut the fat and calories by more than HALF, yet they still taste indulgent. The original bar is 340 calories with 19 grams of fat; this lighter version is just 149 calories with 5 grams of fat (4 points plus).


Last year I attempted to make these light but didn't have much success. I had used whole wheat flour and I believe that was my demise – it gave the bars an unpleasant texture and scent that I really didn't enjoy. 

This time I used Gold Metal all purpose flour and the results were excellent. This is dessert after all, and although I try to use whole grains in all my meals, it doesn't always work when baking. If you need a dessert for a holiday party, these are great. Leave them refrigerated until ready to serve.

More than HALF the calories and fat than the Starbuck's original.



Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 30 • Size: 1 bar • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 149 • Fat: 5 g • Protein: 2 g • Carb: 24 g • Fiber: 0 g • Sugar: 17 g
Sodium: 47 mg • Cholesterol: 5 mg

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (Gold Metal)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

For the Frosting:

  • 8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces white baking chocolate, melted*
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch non-stick baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.

In another bowl, whisk the sugars with the butter, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more “crumbly” than smooth, add just a drop of water at a time (ONLY if needed) until it smooths out.



Fold in white chocolate chips and 1/3 cup cranberries. Spread batter onto the baking pan using the back of a measuring cup to smooth evenly.


Bake 10 - 14 minutes, until the edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don't over-bake or your bars will be dry. Let it cool completely on wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the frosting; in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until well-blended. Frost bars and sprinkle with remaining cranberries. Drizzle with the melted white chocolate.

*To melt the chocolate, place in a microwave safe cup and heat 15 seconds; stir. Another 15 seconds; stir until the chocolate is melted.

When the chocolate sets, cut into 15 large squares (5 cuts by 3 cuts with the knife). Then cut each square in half diagonally to create triangles. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

149 comments :

  1. Could I use a pampered chef stone bar pan? Would it change the baking time? Thank you for this recipe!

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    1. Not sure, I've never used one.

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    2. Yes, I use mine for everything. I will be making this in mine .
      Looks sooo yummy!

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    3. Thank you! So excited to try these.

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    4. can i use blueberryies and not crandberryies

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    5. sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    6. Have made these twice. Making a batch for Christmas Cantata tomorrow. My husband's and MY new favorite cookie/bar EVER! Love em'! Good to know they will freeze. I wondered.

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    7. i only have salted butter...is that ok

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  2. What a fabulous recipe!! I've actually always avoided the Starbucks original version, but I can't wait to try yours. Going on my must make holiday list!

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  3. I am so excited for this recipe! I love Cranberry Bliss bars!

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  4. Yum! Do you think these would work with WW Pastry Flour, opposed to white flour?

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    1. It works but has a weird taste to me. My husband didn't like them at all with the whole wheat but completely up to you.

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    2. My guess is to substitute half of the all purpose flour with half whole wheat pastry flour. I've done that with excellent results.

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  5. Very excited about this recipe!! I love cranberry bliss bars, but rarely allow myself the indulgence. Can't wait to try them!! :)

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  6. I was literally looking for a "light" version of this just yesterday :) what a great morning surprise! Thanks Gina!!

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  7. People go nuts over these bars and I have never had one. Glad to know now if I do there will be a bit less indulgent one to have with all of the other treats in December.

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  8. Have you tried using Almond or Coconut flour?

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    1. No I haven't, bet they would be good!

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  9. Definitely trying these, possibly today! Thinking of trying a batch with dried cherries and mini dark chocolate chips too!

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    1. Wow, what an awesome idea! Thanks for the tip!

      Sarah

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  10. I tried a cranberry bliss bar for the first time ever on Wednesday and I was immediately in love. I am SO excited to try these!

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  11. Thanks for posting this version. I was looking for this exact thing. :)

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  12. Did you ever know that you're my heeerrroooo? These look awesome.

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  13. I think it's Gold Medal flour ;)

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  14. So excited to try your lightened up version of this. These are my all time favorite bars from Starbucks! Going out right now to get all of the ingredients...thanks for the recipe!

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  15. This recipe looks so pretty and yummy! I plan to make it during the holidays.
    Thanks Gina

    Jeannette

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  17. I make these every year but hate how bad they are for me. I'm excited to try this version...my pants thank you!

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  18. This looks so good! I love the ones from starbucks. I can't wait to make these!

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  19. just put these in the oven. and i'm excited. :)

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  20. These look fantastic but since it's just me and the hubby I know I'll be tempted to overindulge. How long will they keep in the fridge? Do you think they would be ok to freeze? Thanks for all the fabulous recipes. I've made at least two (sometimes as many as five) of your recipes since I found out about skinnytaste.com! I have finally been able to realize my goal of not only losing weight but truly adapting a healthy do-able eating style. Thanks Gina!

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    1. Oops! I meant to say I've made at least 2 or sometimes 5 of your recipes PER WEEK since finding your site! Sorry!

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    2. Angela- The ones at starbucks are frozen and they pull them out of the freezer the night before serving. So these should freeze fine too!

      Gina-
      You are my hero! Keep the wonderful recipes coming!! Thank you!!

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    3. Good to know freezing them would work!

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  21. Love Cranberry Bliss Bars! I made the "fat" version last year and added chopped pistachios for taste and color. Do you know how much additional fat that would add?

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    1. Mary, I think you can just google the nutrition information in pistachios and measure out and do the calculations of how much you are using in the recipe. Then add that on to the recipe totals Gina has listed above. If you are counting WW points use your WW calculator on your etools to figure out the new points plus values.

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  22. Does anyone know how many Weight Watchers points one of these bars would be??

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    1. The points are listed at the beginning of the recipe with the nutritional info (just before the ingredients).

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  23. I've never had theor bars, but these look great!

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  24. Bless your heart! These are my favorite indulgence when Starbucks has them. Now I can have my Bliss and not go over points! You have made me very happy!

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  25. I ran out of white flour at about 1.25c so I used a mix of ww and gluten free. I also forgot butter at the store so I used 1/8-1/6c canola oil. They turned out excellent. Thanks Gina!

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    1. Strange, maybe leave them a few minutes longer. Since they worked for others, I'm not sure why you didn't have success.

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  27. The original bars from Starbucks have a lemon essence to them, I wonder how lemon extract instead of vanilla would taste?

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    1. I think it's actually an orange drizzle!

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    2. i'm a starbucks barista. you're correct. it has an "orange-scented, white chocolate drizzle" according to my supervisor :)

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    3. I added a little orange zest to the icing. It worked perfectly! Thanks for this recipe Gina, I've been searching for a good one for literally YEARS! This was the best low fat copy I've EVER found. THANK YOU!!!

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    4. I used Trader Joe's orange flavored dried cranberries to get that subtle orange flavor and they turned out great!

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  28. What can I replace the apple sauce with? I don't have any on hand..

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    1. Mashed bananas?

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    2. oooh i might try that. Thanks for the suggestion!!

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  29. I started making these within 5 minutes of seeing this recipe. They are fantastic! Thank you for this amazing recipe!

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  30. Starbucks Bliss Bars have crystallized ginger in them. A big flavor component. I'm not sure how many points it would add. When I make them I put in 2 tablespoons finely minced. Thanks for lightening them up!

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    1. I was surprised to not see any ginger in these! I will not be skipping that flavor. I'll also add a tsp of ground ginger to the bar with the crystallized ginger.

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  31. What's your opinion on subbing some, if not all, of the sugar and brown sugar in the cake for Spenda products? I'd have to run it through Recipe Builder to see what the PP value would be. I'm not much of a baker, so I don't know if Splenda works well or not in recipes like this. But I'd love to make these Bliss Bars! Thanks for all you do!!

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    1. I never use Splenda, but you can try and see.

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    2. I use Splenda for baking in everything, since my husband has diabetes. It rarely changes the texture.

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  32. Might there be a way to make this Gluten Free? If so, please share your tips.. I ONLY trust Gina revipes, always fabulous and can't wait to give this a try either way

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    1. You could try a good gluten free blend flour, but I have not tried it. I heard William Sonomas cup4cup is the best.

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  33. Has anyone tried these using the Greek yogurt cream cheese?

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    1. I haven't tried the commercially-made Greek yogurt cream cheese here in America, but I've lived in Africa the past two years, and the only way I could make cream cheese was by straining regular yogurt through cheesecloth for 4-8 hours (I got the idea from the Cleaner Plate Club blog). It's a tiny bit more tart than American cream cheese, but I used it for cream cheese icing all the time while overseas. I guess you just get used to the flavor, even if it is a tiny bit different than full-fat American cream cheese icing. Good luck!

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  34. Those look amazing! Definitely Pinned for later Christmas Recipes!
    Meet @ the Barre

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  35. So excited to make these for my family! Love everything I have tried from your website and often refer my WW members to your site. Thanks so much!!!!!

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  36. I like cranberries but I LOVE cherries. I might have to try it with the latter...

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  37. Hi!! I am not a fan of white chocolate could I use regular chocolate chips instead... or maybe a mix of both?? thanks!

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  38. Holy crap these are phenomenal!! They don't taste "skinny" at all! Awesome job Gina! Now to ration myself to 1 a day…I could easily finish the whole pan!

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  39. those who have made - do you really NEED the frosting? I'm thinking pressing chopped cranberries & macadamias into the top before baking then finishing with a drizzle of white choc...
    ...but wondered maybe you need the frosting for the moisture content?

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    1. I don't think you NEED the frosting. The cookie bars themselves are very good. I like the tang of the cream cheese frosting to counter the sweetness of the white chocolate. If you skip the frosting, I'd be very careful not to overcook so the bars don't dry out.

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  40. Love these! Came out perfect. I used half whole wheat and half white flour. I used a little less sugar and it was fine. My husband loved them too! Thanks for another great recipe!

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  41. Cookin woman12/3/13, 9:23 AM

    Gina,
    I love you, your amazing. Thank you for making my life easier with the delicious and healthy recipes that my whole family loves

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  42. I don't even butter my bread; I consider that cooking.

    Katherine Cebrian

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  43. These look amazing! Would light butter work instead of unsalted butter? I have a ton left over from making your pumpkin pie! Thanks!

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    1. I'm not sure, you can try it but I can't promise!

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  44. OMG GINA! Making these tonight!
    Do you think you could try making a lighter version of their Cheese Danish???? ;)

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  45. Gina! I tell everyone I know, about your website! I made these last night. They taste awesome, if not better than the originals. I plan to share with my co-workers and freeze a few as well. I am not a baker, but your instructions were very easy to follow. I'm also taking the week long challenge! You are awesome!

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  46. I love your recipes!! Just wondering though, I have an apple allergy and wondered what I could use instead of the applesauce? Any ideas? Thanks!

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    1. I have the same issue. You could probably use pear sauce or mashed ripe banana.

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  47. These look amazing, can't wait to try them.
    Just wanted to point out though, it is Gold MEDAL flour, not Metal :)

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  48. It's Gold MEDAL flour, not metal.

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  49. Wow! I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate but I think I can make an exception for these. Festive and oh so gorgeous!

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  50. Do you think that these bars would freeze well? And if so, would you recommend freezing them with or without the icing and drizzle?

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    1. I froze the finished product with no problem at all they were just as good as when they were fresh. Thawed them while we were eating dinner and they were perfect for dessert. Tina

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  51. I have made the full fat version from another site and LOVED them. I reluctantly decided to try these for a party last night because the hostess is really watching her calories. These turned out great. They are slightly less "decadent" and the cinnamon in the dough makes them taste slightly different. These are a great desert though.

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  52. Those bars look great - Christmas is my favorite and these are so pretty and festive looking! Have you tried adding dark chocolate to the dough? I'm an absolute chocoholic and that's the only thing that I think could make these better!

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  53. Has anyone tried maki these yet using Splenda or domino light baking products and light butter made these the other day love them and refrigerate very well.

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  54. I made these over the weekend. I followed the recipe as written except for adding the zest of one orange to the dough.

    They were great--even better then the original. In the Starbuck's version the cookie part is very chewy and dense. These had a lighter, slightly more cake-like texture which I liked better.

    I gave my niece a plate to take to work and she says they were a big hit.

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  55. big hit my house! a great copy cat recipe that I felt ok eating more than 1!

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  56. Mine took way longer than 14 minutes to cook. They were still very mooshy at 14 minutes. But otherwise they turned out amazing! Thank you for the great recipe!

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    1. I found this too. I ended up needing close to 20 minutes and was still cautious not to overcook them.

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    2. Mine needed 20 minutes as well.

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    3. Yeah, I baked mine for 18 minutes. I was so concerned about the "Do not overbake" that I took them out. they were a little mushy. I think it really needed another couple of minutes. Not sure why, followed the recipe exactly. The batter never was stiff enough to pat down though. Should have been my clue! Will try again some time with an eye on the batter before baking.

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    4. Needing more time to cook could be because of altitude. The time given in the recipe is most likely for at sea level. Learned this lesson the hard way when I moved to the mountains.

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  57. I made this over the weekend and it did take longer than 10-14 minutes for it to cook, I would say a bit closer to 18-20 minutes. BUT, I am not rating this badly because it was AMAZING!! WOW!! So tasty, I felt I was being decadent without all the calories (which made having two pieces ok lol ) I also gave some to co-workers and they really enjoyed them as well. I would certainly make them again, recommend them. Next, I might even not do the cream cheese icing and just sprinkle the white chocolate!

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  58. These were absolutely the best. Didn't change anything except it did take longer than the 14 minutes until they were baked in the middle. They were a bit "expensive" in terms of weight watcher points, but worth every bite.

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  59. Gina, I have been reading and using recipes from your blog for over two years--and while I absolutely love practically everything you make, I was so compelled to comment this time because these are absolutely spectacular!!

    Thank you so much for your commitment to offering healthier alternatives to all of our lives--I can't count the number of times I've thought, "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" and automatically coming here to find my answer! And while I get all of the praise, you deserve all of the credit. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

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  60. Made these for a cookie exchange and they were a HUGE hit! I also added some orange extract because I love the cranberry orange combination. I am going to try to lesson the sugar and ditch the frosting for a breakfast bar! Maybe add nuts too, yumm!!

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  61. I made these yesterday for a fundraiser at our church. They turned out great. Gina, thank you for your great healthy recipes. I've made several of your soup recipes and have not been disappointed.

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  62. I didn't change one thing and these were as good as or dare I say even BETTER than Starbucks ones. They are just excellent and have been enjoyed by all my family! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!

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  63. I love to bake. It's my creative outlet, but I don't eat anything with processed sugar. I made these and also found they needed more than 14 minutes-just checked them every 2 minutes until done. I love the suggestion of crystallized ginger and will add them next time. Sent half with my wife to her work and took half with me. There wasn't a crumb that made it home. And when my wife's coworkers found out they were "skinny" they begged my wife to pry the recipe from me. A HUGE hit. I did try to take them out of the pan too early and they did break somy, but I was able to "glue" it back together with the frosting. A definite keeper.

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  64. Replies
    1. All Purpose Flour. Gold Medal is a brand. *smiles and the typo* Hey, Come have a tour of Mill City here in Minneapolis. You'll never get "Gold Metal/Medal" wrong again. hehe.

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  65. They do need longer than the 14 minutes to bake, but as long as you keep checking them in the middle every 2-3 minutes and rotate the pan, they'll be fine.

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  66. Mine came out terrible - maybe I did something wrong! Should try again. :\

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  67. Last Monday they gave out free samples of this at Starbucks in my building. I made this recipe today. I baked them about 20 minutes. They weren't done at 14 minutes. I liked these so much better than the Starbucks version. AWESOME!

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  68. how is this clean!? its packed with processed sugars and wheat flour? why not coconut or quinoa flour at the least

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    1. Who said anything about clean? All she said is that she received requests for a lighter version, which is what this is. She never once claimed that these were clean.

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  69. I made these for our family Christmas cookie exchange this year and they were AMAZING. I personally loved them, and they also received rave reviews from my aunts and cousins. These are going in the permanent stash! Thanks for creating these!

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  70. I loved these bliss bars! I am not always the best baker, and these were so easy to make! Even won most unique at our cookie exchange at work. They were a bit hard to cut though, with the chocolate chips, glaze, and cranberries, so be careful cutting! Other than that I followed the recipe to a T.

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  71. I printed the copycat Starbucks recipe for these a couple months ago but haven't tried it yet cuz most in my family don't care for cranberries (silly them). Then I ran across this "skinny-fied" version and decided "it's time." Especially since they look so Christmas-y. I baked them last night and brought them in to work today. OMG- they are Sooooo good. A big hit.

    My question is- how does anyone get their chocolate to melt so it's thin enough to drizzle? I used some good Ghiradhelli white chocolate but it still ended up in little drops instead of a drizzle.

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    1. Honestly, the baking chocolate the recipe calls for didn't melt very well at all for me either. So what I did instead was melt white chocolate chips and I had no problem getting it to become liquid. Plus I scooped it into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a little corner and used that to pipe it into the bars with--so much easier!!

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  72. These sound and look fantastic, and I can totally do 4 points for dessert. :) Awesome!

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  73. Could I add chocolate chips?

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  74. These are really good! Even my kids liked them! Why go to Starbucks when you can bake your own. I will be making these again.

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  75. I had the same problem as some people above with the white baking chocolates not melting properly. Like other people, melting white chocolate chips instead worked great.

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  76. OMG THESE ARE DELICIOUS! I served them to company and they never guessed that they were WW. Love your take on recipes.

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  77. Delicious!! I lined my pan with parchment paper so was a cinch to get out of the pan

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  78. Used gluten free flour, accidentally only bought half the amount of cream cheese but they still turned out great!!

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  79. It's my job to bring desserts this year for Christmas, and I'm adding this to my list! Thanks for this recipe!!

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  80. These turned out great!! Thanks for the recipe - everyone I have given them to loves them!!

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  81. I tried to make Cranberry Bliss Bars last year at Christmas, but they came out rather thick with very heavy icing and too much white chocolate drizzle. This recipe makes them lighter and fluffier, a much better consistency. The only change I made was to add a bit of orange extract to the batter and the icing, so the flavor seems closer to the Starbucks version than without. I do have a question: my white chocolate doesn't get thin enough to drizzle, so I get clumps of chocolate on top of the icing/cranberries. I heated it in the microwave over a minute, using 15-second bursts. I worry that I will burn it if I go much further. Any suggestions?

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  82. LOVE this recipe! I used a 9x13 pan and my baking time was closer to 20 minutes. Otherwise this was spot on! Cant wait to bring these to my family Christmas party tonight!

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  83. ive made these twice and each time they are amzing. i love making them and my husband loves eating them. question though, is there an easier way to even the batter towards the corners? the batter tends to be really gooey and hard to distrube throughout the pan. wondering if anyone had any luck. otherwise, its really had just to eat one!

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  84. These are AMAZING! I made them once and ate them every morning for 2 weeks. However, I had 2 problems with them. First, it took almost 30 minutes for them to cook int he middle. Maybe it was because I;m at high altitude? They were good in the middle but a little hard to eat at the edges. Also, my white chocolate didn't melt so I made the mistake of adding water. Other than that, these were absolutely fabulous and I will make them again.

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  85. These were pretty darn good, thanks as always Gina! Just as comments/responses:
    1. My cookie bar/pan was done at 14 min. though possibly could have gone a minute or two longer. It was just *barely* browning on the edges.
    2. I had problems getting the cookie out of the baking pan. I ended up having to cut into into 3 big hunks to remove and one of them sort of shattered on me, though it was salvageable. Any hints or tricks as to when/how to get these out of the pan cleanly?
    3. For the drizzle at the end, I tried to melt Nestle white chocolate chips in the microwave. They went from hard, to sorta soft, to a solid mass, even taking them out to stir every 15-20 sec. I ended up using milk chocolate chips (melted the same way in the microwave without a problem). It was delicious and a nice contrasting color to the white frosting and red cranberries.

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  86. Made this 3 times over the holidays including a double batch - gobbled up every time!

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  87. These came out beautifully and absolutely delicious!!! I made this for my family for Christmas and everyone raved. They couldn't believe they weren't the fatty, caloric Starbucks version!
    My only issue was with the white chocolate not melting enough so my "drizzle" was fat strips of white chocolate... Not as pretty as yours but just as yummy, I am sure! Thanks for the great recipe. This one is a keeper!

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  88. These were fantastic, and a big hit with family last night. I substituted dried cherries, and they were delicious. However, a couple notes.....A whisk does not cut it for this recipe! The batter is incredibly stiff and thick. Electric beater is the tool for the job. Also, I had to add twice as much applesauce to get a smooth batter....with just 1/4 cup, it was dust-dry. Even then, it was very stiff and difficult to spread. And finally, my white ceramic pan required about 25 minutes to bake. They came out super-moist, but after 10 minutes they were still runny. The pan, the oven and the climate make a big difference, so you really have to watch the time carefully.

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  89. Oh Gina I love you for doing this! I am not a big sweet eat eater but every year I wait for Starbucks to put these out. I eat one then buy a pan for the office. Everyone loves them. Now I can eat two or even three :)!!

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  90. My dad just linked this to me, thanks dad, wondering if adding candied ginger to the cookie dough makes a huge calorie difference. The version I have has candied ginger in the mix, should I just use powdered ginger?

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  91. I tried these and they were very yummy! I think I like them better than the Starbucks ones because they taste less sugary. I would make them again for sure!

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  92. My bars came out perfect. Did not experience any problems that others have mentioned. They were delicious and will now be a part of our Christmas gatherings :-)

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  93. I made a batch in 2 separate smaller pans, so we ate one and gave the other to my daughter's teacher for Christmas. I loved them, and I still have a pound of cranberries to use.

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  94. Just wanted to pass along a tip - made these for Christmas and were a huge hit. We left town before we could eat them all so I put the leftovers in the freezer and they came out perfect. So, IF by chance someone has leftovers (unlikely, I know), they freeze well and are just as delicious in the middle of January.

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  95. Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a big fan of the Starbucks version and am thrilled to have a healthier (and cheaper) substitute! I made these for Valentine's Day and brought some to my coworkers. Everyone raved about them.

    Thanks for your recipes and inspiration!!

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  96. I made these for an office party, and had so many people asking for the recipe that now they are my go-to recipe for parties. These are so tasty!

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  97. I just made these and had my first little triangle. They are amazingly good. Thanks for the recipe and the skinny adjustments. love it

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  98. Made these to take to a friend's cabin this weekend, and they were delicious. I think the kids were wary of the fruit on top - it looked too healthy and not very chocolate-y, but if you could convince them to try it, they liked it.

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  99. Betty Crocker would be shaking her head right now! It's Gold Medal all-purpose flour, hence the medal on the label. Or it could be a typo.

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  100. I wonder why mine took almost 20 minutes to cook? Once they finished baking, they look amazing!

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  101. Gina ... you life saver .... well, at least you are a wallet and figure saver. I'm addicted to cranberry bliss bars and I'm afraid of what it is doing to my wallet and my waist line. I'm so excited to make these. You are a hero to most of us who follow you blog (and now cookbook) faithfully.

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