These Cranberry Bliss Bars are a copycat of the famous seasonal bar you can find at your favorite chain coffee shop; only these bars are 100% vegan! Soft and chewy with a little spice and orange zest added in, you won’t know you aren’t eating the real deal. Top with a cream cheese icing, drizzled with (vegan) white chocolate, and you are in for a special vegan treat you can make at home.
Cranberry Bliss Bars are a special holiday treat my family missed. Luckily, with this copycat – yet vegan – recipe we don’t have to! Even though we try to eat healthy on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to maintain certain traditions – even (especially) those that involve a little treat! (Read more about the day I realized this to be true!) For some more special yummy treats, try:
To make these vegan cranberry bliss bars you will need:
(Please see the printable recipe card below for full ingredients including amounts as well as the complete instructions.)
For the bars:
- ground flax seed
- all-purpose flour
- brown sugar
- ground ginger
- baking powder
- vegan butter
- vanilla and orange extract
- orange zest
- vegan white chocolate chips (affiliate link)
- craisins (or other dried cranberries)
For the Frosting and topping:
- white vinegar
- lemon juice
- vanilla and orange extracts
- vegan butter
- vegetable shortening
- powdered sugar
- vegan white chocolate
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Tips and Tricks for Making the Recipe for Cranberry Bliss Bars (Vegan)
There is a printable recipe card below, but please read through the Tips and Tricks section the first time to ensure your recipe turns out as fabulous for you as it did for me.
Can you make a cookie bar without eggs?
Yes! You can use an egg replacer such as Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (affiliate link), apple sauce or other fruit purees, or a “flax egg” using ground flaxseed and water. For this recipe, the best option to really hold the cookie bars together after cutting was making a flax egg.
- I use the main mixing bowl I’m going to use to mix my cookie bars in and add warm water to the ground flaxseed. Give it a little stir, and allow it to sit for a few minutes while getting the dry ingredients together and zesting the orange.
- It’s important to mix the dry ingredients well before adding them to the liquid. Make sure you break up and fully incorporate the packed brown sugar.
- I use organic sugar (brown, white, and powdered) to sure to ensure vegan compliance. Some sugar is processed using bone char. If this is a concern for you, use sugar that is labeled vegan or organic sugar which does not process this way.
What kind or brand of vegan butter should I use?
- Make sure you use vegan butter that tastes good to you as it will affect the outcome of the recipe. My current favorite is Country Crock Plant Butter.
- A stick butter works a lot better for the best texture than a tub butter.
- I melt my stick of vegan butter in a microwave-safe bowl for one minute and it melts perfectly. Your microwave might heat differently. Start with thirty seconds and then add another 30 and then 20-second increments until it is melted.
Do I need to use orange zest and orange extract?
Do you want your cranberry bliss bars to taste authentic? Then the answer is yes! You will need the zest of one medium-sized orange. This works out to about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of zest. If you don’t have a zester (affiliate link) then use the small holes of your grater.
Orange extract can be found near the vanilla extra in your grocer’s baking section. If you absolutely can’t find it, then zest another orange.
Baking the Cranberry Bliss Bars:
- You will need to preheat your oven to 350° and prepare your baking pan before starting. If you want to be able to lift the baked cranberry bliss bars out of the pan to get the cleanest cut, you will need to use parchment paper (affiliate link) and let it hang over some on two sides so that you can use the overhang to grasp and lift.
- I measure the bottom of my baking pan. Even though I’m using a 9×9 pan, the bottom is closer to 8×8. Measure out about 18 inches of parchment paper, then loosely roll it, measure the length you want to cut to (in my case, 8 inches) and just cut across. Easy peasy.
- Make sure you spray the pan first so that the parchment will stick to the bottom.
- After your batter is mixed, it will be a little thicker than your typical brownie batter. Expect your batter to look more like cookie dough.
- Turn the batter into the pan and with the back of a spoon (or honestly just use your fingers), gently press into the edges.
- I place the 9×9 pan onto a cookie sheet to make it easier to put in and take out of the oven.
- Every oven is different. It takes my oven about 25 minutes to fully bake this recipe. Check yours at 23 minutes and then every couple of minutes for 23-27 minutes.
- You will know that your cranberry bliss bars are fully baked when the edges are lightly browned and when the top feels mostly solid (not jiggly) with a gentle touch.
- Take the pan out of the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before handling.
- After about 15 minutes, grasping the parchment on both sides, gently lift to a cooling rack and allow to fully cool before frosting.
The Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting:
When I first made these cranberry bliss bars, I fully intended to make a cream cheese frosting using vegan cream cheese. Unfortunately, in my one- grocery-store town, I have one option for vegan cream cheese. And they were out! Even when it is in stock, it is very expensive – $9.00 for a small 8-ounce container! I knew these cookie bars needed a slightly tangy cream cheese icing to taste authentic, but was honestly out of time to run to the next town and try to find vegan cream cheese.
Luckily, I found this amazing cream cheese-less vegan cream cheese frosting on my new favorite website, Cooking On Caffeine! I made some adjustments for this particular recipe and nearly cried with joy that I could make a cream cheese frosting that tasted so authentic but without the actual vegan cream cheese! You should check out Cooking on Caffeine for some amazing vegan recipes – especially her beautiful Vegan Italian Macarons! Say what?
How to make the cream cheese frosting:
- To make this cream-cheeseless cream cheese frosting, you will need a little lemon juice and white vinegar. Believe it or not, these two ingredients give your frosting the tang it needs!
- Because we drizzle white chocolate on top of the frosted bars, the frosting was a little too sweet. I added in some salt and subbed in a little cornstarch to help cut down on the sweet.
- Because I want it to be mostly dissolved before adding in the powdered sugar so I mix up the extracts, vinegar, and lemon juice first with the salt.
- Use a half a stick vegan butter as well as 1/4 cup vegetable shortening.
- Mix up the powdered sugar with the cornstarch before adding to the liquids, one half at a time. Using the cornstarch helps to cut the sweetness a little.
- Don’t forget to add in the craisins before frosting your bars. You will also sprinkle a few on top for a pro look!
The vegan white chocolate:
I can easily find vegan brown chocolate chips in my grocery store but have been challenged finding vegan white chocolate. I have heard that Trader Joe’s carries some. Please let me know if you have found any other big chains that carry vegan white chocolate chips, and I will add them to this post. There are several options on Amazon. These are the ones I use. They come in a three-pack so I can make this recipe over again.
- Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each time. Depending on your microwave, You shouldn’t have to heat for more than 90 seconds. I heat mine for one minute. Because these white chocolate chips are vegan, they will not melt as liquidy as regular white chocolate chips would have.
- Since the melted white chocolate will be quite thick, it will not drizzle unless you put it in a pastry bag and gently squeeze out. I was out of pastry bags (affiliate link) the day I made this recipe. I just used a small baggie and made the tiniest hole in one corner. It was not ideal, but it worked.
The Recipe For Cranberry Bliss Bars (Vegan)
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Cranberry Bliss Bars (Vegan)
Cranberry Bliss Bars
- 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch more in frosting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegan butter melted (1 stick)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- zest from 1 orange about 1 ½ Tablespoons
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips vegan - more for topping
- 1/2 cup Craisins more for frosting and topping
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegan butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup craisins
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips vegan - melted
- 1/3 cup craisins
Cranberry Bliss Bars
- Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a 9x9 baking pan by lightly spraying and placing parchment paper on the bottom and hanging over two sides. (See photo for example.)
- zest orange and set aside
- In your main mixing bowl, add the warm water to the flax seeds, stir to moisten and allow to sit for a few minutes while you are getting your dry ingredients together.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, ground ginger, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Mix well to break up and fully incorporate the brown sugar.
- Add the melted butter, orange and vanilla extracts, and orange zest to the bowl with the water/ground flax mixture. Mix together.
- Add the dry ingredients, half at a time and mix well to combine. Your mixture will have a texture similar to cookie dough.
- Add in the white chocolate chips and craisins. You may need to finish mixing by hand.
- Press into your prepared pan and bake at 350° for about 23 -27 minutes or until sides are lightly browned.
- Take out and allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Very carefully lift the baked bars out of the pan using the sides of the parchment paper to assist. Place the bars (still on top of the parchment) carefully on a cooling rack until completely cooled.
- In a small bowl (not your mixing bowl) add the white vinegar, lemon juice, orange and vanilla extracts, and salt together and allow to sit for a couple of minutes so the salt can dissolve. You can prepare the vegan butter and shortening while you are waiting.
- Add the vegan butter and shortening to a mixing bowl and allow the butter to soften if it is not yet at room temperature.
- Cream the butter and shortening together till fluffy and add in the liquids, powdered sugar, and cornstarch. Start by mixing on low and then high for a few minutes until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated.
- Add in the cranberries and mix well.
- Frost the cranberry bliss bars and sprinkle the cranberries on top.
- Using the microwave, melt the vegan white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Starting at one minute, stir, and then 20 seconds increments for up to one more minute. Stir and check after each 20 seconds, making sure that the white chocolate mixture isn't burning.
- Put melted white chocolate into a pastry bag with a small tip and drizzle on top of the frosted bars.
- Again, using the parchment to lift, move the frosted bars to a cutting surface. Cut the bars. To get the classic triangle shape, cut the 9x9 cookie bar into three horizontal strips and four vertical strips, giving you 12 rectangles. Cut the rectangles in half from corner to corner.