Today I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! Picture me standing in my kitchen, bouncing up and down, hands clasped together, beckoning you to please, come taste these Cranberry cream cheese bars! That’s how excited I am about them! They may or may not be a copycat recipe from a large coffee chain. . . but I swear these are even better!
I scoured the internet for a decent Cranberry Cream Cheese bars recipe, with little success. They were either too cake like, lacked flavor, or just didn’t taste like the real thing. I knew there could be better out there. So I began experimenting.
This post is in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill, all opinions are my own.
The key secret most other recipes are missing
After researching and testing I found the secret! You need to use three eggs, but two of them with yokes only, no whites. And for some reason, that combo takes these bars to a level near perfect. They are a dense, flavorful, little triangle from heaven.
These aren’t super sweet, I don’t like them that way. I want the amazing flavors of the ginger, cranberry, and orange to shine through, and to do that you can’t have them doused with too much sugar. It’s a balancing act. But worry not friends, I cracked the code. 😉
Several recipes I looked through called for candied ginger. However, after giving it a try, the lackluster flavor made me realize you need to use fresh ginger to get the zing this recipe requires.
I also decided to use a high-quality white chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips for the dough and to be sprinkled on top, saving the white chocolate chips to melt for the drizzle. Another trick I learned was to dice the dried cranberries so they distribute more evenly though-out the bar. It give for better texture and flavor than getting a huge mouthful of only cranberry.
My little helper wanted to keep all the dried cranberries for herself. 😉
My reason for loving Bob’s Red Mill products
One of the reasons I love using Bob’s Red Mill in my baking projects, and wanted to highlight them in these bars, is their Sourced Non-GMO pledge and the Non-GMO project. Please read about their pledge. This is huge in the food industry and something I’m so passionate about. In my kitchen I try to use clean ingredients as much as possible and am very picky about the products I allow in our home and into my family. Bob’s passes my quality test, along with simply being a high quality product for taste and baking needs.
Did you know I actually met Bob? I went to his facility in Oregon this summer along with eight other bloggers and food content creators. Bob shared his heart and passion for quality food with us. Then he sat down at his piano and played “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You“, (Something that was so truly special and I’ll remember until my dying day.) before sending us off to tour his facility. Truly it was an amazing experience and solidified the fact to me that Bob’s Red Mill is a quality brand I will use over others whenever I have the opportunity.
Back to the bars!
Don’t let the sticky dough scare you, this is how it’s suppose to be. Scrape the contents out onto a parchment lined 9×13 pan and flatten using a piece of parchment paper that has been buttered so it won’t stick.
At this point I could smell all the ginger goodness and cranberry tartness and white chocolate smoothness and I knew, I just knew this was the winning recipe combo. I could sense it. Call it a bakers intuition. 😉
*Note: Make sure to cook these in a metal pan, not glass. The bars tend to cook too hot in a glass baking dish and don’t result in as dense of bars.
And as it cooked I peaked, and checked, and poked, and waited, when I pulled it out. . . . it was perfect friends. Like a little Christmas Day miracle. I trimmed off the browned sides to make perfect edges that beckoned to be frosted. As for the frosting, wait until the bar is cool completely or the cream cheese will melt and fall right off your bars.
Temperamental cream cheese frosting
If you’ve frosted with cream cheese then you know with certainty, cream cheese frosting can be a beast sometimes. Every now and again it just doesn’t want to thicken, and you end up with frosting that although tastes amazing, won’t set, pipe, and simply drips off whatever it’s put on. A gooey stickie mess is what that’s called.
One thing I learned this go around is to frost using only the bricks of cream cheese. I used it from a large tub on attempt number one and it turned out horrible. What I researched and found out after the fact was that cream cheese in a tub has a higher water content because it’s made to be spreadable. The brick is firmer and best for using for any kind of baking needs!
Also, make sure the butter you use isn’t melted, and isn’t super cold. Melted and you are bound to have runny frosting. Cold and it won’t mix well and you’ll wind up with butter clumps in your frosting. That’s also a no-go.
Best to stick with room temperature butter, and chilled, brick cream cheese. I can almost guarantee the frosting will turn out spreadably delicious if you follow those rules.
Cranberry cream cheese bars finishing touches
What are Cranberry Cream Cheese bars without the toppings? They’ll still taste amazing, but be far less pretty. And isn’t part of dessert how beautiful it is? You know I’m right. I also thought it was a fun touch to add some of Decorative Sparkling Sugar to the top with the cranberries and white chocolate. It gave it a nice shimmer. I’ll now be searching for excuses to put Decorative Sparkling Sugar on all of my baking. 😉
You can choose to dice up the cranberries for the topping, or use whole for an added wow factor. Use the remainder of the white chocolate bar for the topping, and then melt white chocolate chips to drizzle over the top.
That’s it friends. You’ve just created a culinary masterpiece that will be enjoyed by family and friends. That’s only if after eating a square you actually want to share with others.
These store best in the fridge, and I find them oddly delicious served cold.
I can’t wait for you to try these! Please make sure to five star this recipe and share how much you enjoyed the recipe! Also tag me over on Instagram so I can post your creations in IG stories!
Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup) room temperature
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yokes (discard whites)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic White Flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries chopped
- 3 ounce white chocolate bar chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup) room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese cold from fridge
- 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/4 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 ounces white chocolate bar chopped
- 3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries chopped
- 2 tbsp
Bob's Red Mill Decorative Sparkling Sugar
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9X13 pan with parchment paper.
- In large bowl, cream together brown sugar and butter. Mix until creamy. Add in whole egg, two egg yokes, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
- Combine orange zest, ginger, and orange juice. Slowly add in Bob's Redmill flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Once well mixed, add chopped cranberries and white chocolate. Stir until combined.
- Place dough in center of parchment lined pan, and taking a butter rubbed piece of parchment, place over dough and push until flat and even in pan.
- Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, checking often. These won't raise much and that's good. We want a dense, heavy bar. Look for the edges to start browning slightly to gauge when done.
- Let cool completly before frosting. If you place cream cheese frosting on a warm bar it will just melt and slide right off.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- It's very important here to make sure to use the brick cream cheese, and not one out of a tub. The ones in tubs have a higher water content because they are made for spreading easily, and it will make your frosting not thicken properly.
- Place butter in bowl and whip until all lumps are gone. If you skip this step your frosting will have butter chunks in it. Don't skip this step. 😉
- Add in cold cream cheese and whip until light and fluffy. Add in orange, ginger, and vanilla, stir. Slowly sift in powdered sugar. Frost bars and save extra for spooning out of the fridge in the middle of the night. Oh no . . . is that just me?
Finish with topping and white chocoalte drizzle
- Sprinkle dried cranberries and white chocolate over frosted bars.
- Take 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, stiring in beween. Once melted, drizzle over frosting and let harden. Cut up into squares, then half into triangles, and enjoy!
I’m going to make these for our neighbors and family friends this Christmas season. Usually I bake about 24 loaves of cinnamon bread, but I might just make a few batches for the Cranberry Cream Cheese bars and give each family a few of them as well. Such a fun way to share the holiday cheer!
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