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There’s something in the air come autumn that makes throwing on an apron, cranking up the oven to 350ºF, and getting your bake on a quintessential activity this time of year. I mean, who wouldn’t want the aroma of just-baked-cookies wafting through their home while Elf plays on repeat in the background? Certainly not I.

Thankfully, Yumna Jawad, the creator of Feel Good Foodie is one step ahead of us when it comes to setting immaculate cozy fall vibes. In fact, she recently developed a mouthwatering cranberry bliss bars recipe that’s the epitome of sweet, spice, and everything nice in every bite. Between the layers of a decadent blondie made with anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon to the soul-warming cream cheese frosting to the chewy orange-zested dried cranberries, these will inspire pure bliss from beginning to end.

This soul-warming cranberry dessert checks every box

This delicious cranberry bar recipe gives the ~illusion~ that you spent hours in the kitchen—but in truth, it takes no longer than 20 minutes of prep to pull together.

Like many of Feel Good Foodie’s recipes, this one’s fully customizable, meaning that you can easily adapt, tweak, and adjust the recipe to best suit your needs. For starters, the blondie batter calls for white chocolate chips. However, Jawad notes that they may be a little too sweet for some palates—but that’s no problem. “If you are not a fan [of white chocolate], skip it altogether. You can also swap in one cup of chopped roasted nuts in their place,” Jawad says. Not only do the nuts—think roasted walnuts, pistachios, or pecans—add crunch factor to these bars, they’re also loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, including omega-3s.

Similarly, if cream cheese frosting isn’t your speed, you can swap it for a dark chocolate drizzle—this is particularly perfect when pairing your cranberry bliss bars with coffee. “Plus, you can also store your bars at room temperature instead of the fridge when using dark chocolate,” says Jawad. Finally, to kick up the holiday cheer factor, she suggests swapping candied ginger in for a third of a cup of the cranberries.

For even more pro tips on making these tasty cranberry bars, make sure to check out the full recipe on Feel Good Foodie’s website—where she covers everything from how to make clean cuts when serving these bars and a pastry chef hack for infusing the batter with even more flavor.

cranberry bliss bars recipe overhead
Photo: Feel Good Foodie

Cranberry bliss bars recipe 

Yields 24 bars

Ingredients

For the blondie base:
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 orange, zested
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 Tsp ground ginger
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
1/4 Tsp salt
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 Tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries
Orange zest, if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a nine by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a little excess on all four sides so you can easily remove the blondies once baked.

2. To make the blondies, add brown sugar to a large bowl. Add orange zest and massage the zest into the sugar with your fingers until it’s very fragrant. Whisk in melted butter until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the vanilla extract.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in the dried cranberries and white chocolate, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Once the blondies have cooled completely, make the frosting. Add cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together at medium speed for two to three minutes, or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth, about one to two minutes more.

6. Spread the frosting all over the cooled blondies in an even layer. Add chopped cranberries and orange zest on top, if desired. Set in the fridge to cool for about one hour, then cut into 24 even triangles and serve.

On a baking spree? Try these gluten-free herb parmesan biscuits next: