The Perfect Fall Treat: White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

I am so excited to share this recipe with you today to celebrate “National White Chocolate Day” on September 22. The recipe is for over the top decadent white chocolate cranberry blondies. You can’t even imagine how great all the flavors are together in this treat today. Maybe especially because of a secret sneaky ingredient that makes the flavor really pop! These bars are apparently very similar to the “Cranberry Bliss Bars” they sell at Starbucks in the fall. In fact, an argument can be made that these are even better!

A Little History Lesson on Blondies

But first, because I am a bit of a history buff and I think the history of foods can be a tad overlooked, let’s take a little {shallow} dive in the interesting history of blondies. Did you know that blondies were actually invented before brownies? Blondies are said to have been invented in America and the recipe for blondies was first published in 1896 by Fanny Farmer in The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. But…..the recipe was actually called “Brownies”. They were, however, exactly what we think of today as blondies, as they contained no chocolate at all. The name was used to celebrate Elfin characters called Brownies, created by Palmer Cox, that were featured in books, cartoons, stories and songs and were very popular at the time. Farmer published another cookbook in 1906 that featured two recipes called brownies--one was like a modern blondie and one was a modern brownie, the latter containing chocolate this time. People started making both versions, and some bakers started subbing brown sugar in place of the molasses, which gave them a new butterscotch taste, and a new name, butterscotch brownies. People believe it wasn’t until the 1970’s that “blondies” became a more mainstream name and commercially produced on a grander scale.

While blondies and brownies are very similar in texture, here are a few key differences between a blondie and a brownie:
  • Blondies substitute vanilla for cocoa powder in brownies
  • They contain brown sugar (or even molasses) instead of white sugar. The brown sugar is what gives them their butterscotch-like flavor.
  • Blondies don’t usually have frosting, as they are plenty sweet enough with the brown sugar.
  • Blondies usually have mix-ins like walnuts, pecans, toffee pieces, white chocolate chips, dried fruit, or even M&M’s.

Today’s blondies feature beautiful flavors and textures that are sure to be a perfect fall treat to make for family, friends, co-workers or bring to a party. They will definitely be a hit! Everyone in the comments of the recipe seemed to have a story where they made them for work, brought them to a Christmas party, or brought them to book club and they outcome in each of these stories was the same: they were gobbled right up, everyone was begging for the recipe, and the person who brought them really impressed their guests and was known as a baking superstar!

These blondies feature dried cranberries and big white chocolate chunks. They have a frosting with cream cheese and the zest of an orange which really brings a great pop of flavor, and finally, they are drizzled with white chocolate. If you really like orange flavor, you can add a bit of pure orange extract to the blondie batter and/or the frosting as well. You can cut these into squares, then triangles for beautiful presentation.

Have you tried the cranberry bars from Starbucks or a similar recipe before? And are you more of a brownie fan or a blondie fan? Please share your thoughts and cast your vote in the comments below. For the record, I think 60% of the time I’d go for a decadent brownie, but it’s almost a tie for me!

White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

Friends sometimes ask me to make these for wedding receptions. For a fancier presentation, I cut the bars into triangle shapes and drizzle white chocolate over each one individually. —Erika Busz, Kent, Washington Recipe Type: Desserts Total Time: 55M

Serving size: 3
Calories per serving: 1,397

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups , 1-1/2 packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups , 2-1/4 all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons 1-1/2 baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces , white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest, optional
6 ounces , white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter; stir in the brown sugar. Cool slightly.

Add eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; stir into butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick). Spread into a greased 13x9-in. pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not overbake), 18-21 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and, if desired, orange zest until smooth. Gradually beat in half of the melted white chocolate; spread over blondies. Sprinkle with cranberries; drizzle with remaining melted chocolate.

Cut into triangles. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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