Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars
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These Starbucks copycat Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars are deliciously dairy free, sweet, and soft. Imagine a festive white chocolate blondie topped with frosting, icing, and dried cranberries!
Have you ever tried the cranberry bliss bars from Starbucks? Featuring a cranberry-packed blondie bar, these sweet treats are topped with a luscious layer of cream cheese frosting, orange zest, and dried cranberries. Thankfully, these copycat bliss bars are even better than the classic and are made completely dairy and egg free!
The base is adapted from my Vegan Blondies recipe, which are always a tasty treat.
These vegan holiday treats are easy to love and made up of 3 delicious layers:
- Soft and sweet blondie cookie bars
- Rich dairy free cream cheese frosting
- And a tart, citrusy, and sweet glaze
You’ll find the perfect combination of sweet and tart, and soft and chewy with each bite of these dairy free cranberry bliss bars. The recipe makes a large batch, so you’ll always have enough to bring to holiday parties or give away as gifts! Imagine enjoying one while sipping on a hot chocolate or vegan egg nog? YUM!
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Vegan butter – This is the primary source of moisture and fat in the blondies and makes for a rich and creamy frosting. Be sure to use softened vegan butter here, so it blends easily.
- Brown sugar – The added molasses in brown sugar deepens the color and flavor in vegan cookie bars.
- Applesauce – Or JUST Egg.
- Vanilla extract
- Orange zest – Or orange extract. A little bit of citrus flavor goes a long way and brightens the flavors in the whole dessert.
- All purpose flour – For gluten free, try a 1:1 gluten free flour blend.
- Baking powder
- Vegan white chocolate chips – Pascha, Lily’s, and Great Value brands offer vegan white chocolate chips.
- Dried cranberries – For pops of red and plenty of juicy and tart flavors. They’re a must when you want to recreate the true Starbucks look!
- Vegan cream cheese – Let it sit at room temperature to soften before blending it into the frosting.
- Powdered sugar – To sweeten and thicken the vegan cream cheese frosting.
- Soy milk – Or any unsweetened dairy free milk.
How to make vegan cranberry bliss bars
Start by making the blondie bar base by stirring the melted butter, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest together. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir until the dough is thick and sticky.
Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries and transfer the mixture to your prepared baking pan. Press the dough down evenly with your hands or a spatula. Bake until the top is set and golden brown.
It’s frosting time! Beat the cream cheese and vegan butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Lastly, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and orange zest to finish the glaze topping.
To assemble the vegan cranberry bliss bars, spread an even layer of frosting over top of the blondie bars and finish by drizzling the glaze on top. Sprinkle the dried cranberries on top and leave the bars to chill and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. When the bars are firm, slice them into triangles and enjoy!
Tips for making the best cranberry bliss bars
- Equipment – You’ll need a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, parchment paper, mixing bowls, and a handheld mixer or a standing mixer to make these bliss bars.
- Watch the blondies in the oven – The bars can quickly dry out if over baked.
- Use softened butter for the frosting – Take the vegan butter out of the fridge about 30 minutes ahead of baking so it softens and smoothly blends into the frosting.
- Glaze consistency – The glaze on top should be pourable but not super thin. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add more milk.
Frequently asked questions
- Are vegan cranberry bliss bars gluten free? I used regular all purpose flour when testing this recipe but a quality 1:1 all purpose gluten free baking flour (like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Bill) should work if you need them to be gluten free.
- How do I store cranberry bliss bars? They will keep for up to a week in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- Can I freeze cranberry bliss bars? You sure can! These bars are a great make-ahead freezable dessert. You can either freeze the whole sheet or individual slices by wrapping them in plastic wrap and freezing for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before slicing and serving.
- Where do I find vegan white chocolate chips? You can make your own homemade vegan white chocolate or buy storebought chocolate chips. While most white chocolate chips are non-vegan, several brands offer a vegan option, such as Enjoy Life, Great Value, Lily’s, Pascha, and Nestle Simply Delicious.
More vegan holiday desserts and treats
- Cranberry Orange Bread
- Vegan Blondies
- Pumpkin Scones
- Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
- Mini Pumpkin Pies
Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 6 tablespoons applesauce or JUST Egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Cream cheese frosting
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/4 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy milk, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped small
Make the blondies
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the side so you can remove them easily.
- In a large bowl, stir the melted vegan butter and brown sugar together until it resembles smooth caramel. Stir in the applesauce, vanilla and orange zest.
- Now add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until just combined. The dough should be a bit thick and sticky.
- Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
- Transfer the mixture to the pan and press down evenly with your hands or a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes until the top is set and the top is golden. Do not over bake or they will dry out.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully use the parchment paper to lift them out and onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting and topping
- Cream cheese frosting: In a medium bowl, add the vegan cream cheese and softened vegan butter and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Set aside.
- Simple icing: Combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and orange zest in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. You want a pourable glaze that is not too thin. If it seems thin, add a little more powered sugar. If it's too thick, add a bit more milk.
- Frost the cooled bars with frosting. Drizzle the icing on top of the frosting. Sprinkle the chopped dried cranberries on top.
- Place the bars in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This lets the frosting firm up so they slice neatly.
- Once chilled, slice into triangles, serve and enjoy!
- Leftover bars will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. They also freeze well.
- Gluten free? Substitute a quality gluten free all purpose flour.
- Can’t find vegan white chocolate? May leave it out, or use regular vegan chocolate chips for a variation.
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