Cranberry Bliss Bars. Gluten-free cranberry bliss bars. That is a mouthful, but I needed to stress the gluten-free part. Why? Because if you tied my hands together and threatened to douse me in honey and tie me to an anthill, I would never believe these are GF. I’ve had some pretty good results with using Pamela’s all purpose GF flour, but in the back of my mind, I knew the real test would be these Cranberry Bliss Bars. These bars require a moist but dense blondie layer in order to hold the massive amount of cream cheese frosting.
I found the recipe for these last year and they were so good and I may have kept them for myself instead of sharing. I love the mix of ginger, orange, cranberry, and chocolate. But the frosting is what sets these apart. For this recipe, I drastically cut the sugar. Nobody in my family needs a ton of sugar and I love the tartness of orange zest cream cheese.
I admit I had serious doubts about these. I searched for gluten-free recipes. Most called for a delicate combination of various flours that I did not have. I also had doubts concerning the melted white chocolate. I’ve had a lot of trouble this year with it binding up and NOT melting (previous years….absolutely flawless…this year….trouble). But I wanted to try. I wanted to see if I could pull this off with as little difficulty as possible.
I went for the most simple. I replaced the regular flour for Pamela’s baking flour mix. I used the same measurements. And that’s all I changed with regards to gluten free baking.
The results were so much better than I hoped. They were almost buttery, they were so moist but still had a density that could handle the flavors and the frosting. I was a good little soldier and I shared with my family. They had to compete with other holiday legends such as pecan pie, fudge, divinity, and German’s chocolate cake. I think Grandma had a bite and called it good. That’s all the endorsement I need!
- 1 cup butter, softened, 2 sticks
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons minced crystalized ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups Gluten Free all purpose flour blend
- 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries
- 6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
- 1 package cream cheese, softened, 8 ounces
- 1 /2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- Make cake by beating butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt and beat well.
- Gradually mix in baking powder and flour until smooth.
- Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand.
- Pour batter into a well-greased 9×13″ baking pan.
- Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan.
- Bake at 350* for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges.
- Allow cake to cool.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well-blended.
- Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate, zest, and extract; beat until blended.
- Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries.
- Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate.
- Cut into bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Carve out a little time. Clear the counters. Put on some holiday music and make a cup of coffee to sip between layers. This recipe is not just baking. It’s a baking bliss!