Cookie Day 5: Cranberry Orange "Bliss" Blondies

Woohoo - it's Cookie Day 5 of our holiday cookie countdown! But first... a confession. Over the past few months, I've changed my diet a bit and have stopped drinking coffee. {Gasp!} It first started by detoxing and cutting out sugar. So I stopped putting sugar in my coffee. It took awhile to get used to having only cream in my coffee. Then I started substituting cream with almond milk. Again, it took awhile to get used to and I realized I just didn't like almond milk as much as I hoped. So the next thing I did was to start drinking my coffee black. That was a big step and after awhile, it wasn't so bad! So after a couple weeks went by, I ended up getting a cold and opted to have a cup of tea to help ease the aches and pains I was feeling. The tea was so relaxing. Calming. And I continued to drink tea... and haven't had coffee since! That said, my visits to Starbucks have gone downhill. I kind of miss going there to grab my sugary, cream filled coffee, especially this time of year. The holidays is when Starbucks has my favorite treat - their famous "Cranberry Bliss Bars." If you're a Starbucks fan, surely you know these sweet treats. A blondie base is studded with white chocolate , cranberries and hints of orange, and a white chocolate drizzle to finish them off. Heaven.

Needless to say, I still haven't been to Starbucks this holiday season but I guess I don't really have to. Today's cookie is the Cranberry Orange Bliss Blondies, a spin off the same Starbucks bars I love. Why go to Starbucks and pay $3+ for a piece when you can have a whole pan to yourself at home for less! Here's a great copycat recipe, where I omitted the white chocolate drizzle, but you can indulge and add it yourself if you'd like!

Cranberry Orange "Bliss" Blondies
recipe adapted from Taste of Home

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a microwave, melt butter; stir in brown sugar. Transfer to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).

Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and orange peel if desired until blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

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