Coconut Cranberry Bliss Bars [vegan and gluten-free]

Mmmm Starbucks. Even the mention of the house of that blessed green goddess gives me the warm fuzzies. Nothing frosts my cookie more than their iced coffee with soy milk or their soy lattes. They just have the best soy milk there. Anyone else agree with me? Love it. It’s perfect.

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Another Starbucks menu fav is the Cranberry Bliss Bar that makes its delicious carby sugary appearance during the holiday seasons. Red cups and holiday themed baked goods? You better believe I buy into that. I’m a sucker for all things holiday and festive and cozy. Turns out despite all my sarcasm and outward angst, deep down I’m secretly a softie easily persuaded by good marketing.

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I’ve had a desire to make Cranberry Bliss Bars for a few weeks, ever since I had a bad day at work and stopped at Starbucks after (SOML) and saw them sitting there in all their million-ingredient-$2.45-per-bar-glory.

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Mmm. Cranberries. Cakieness. Cream-cheesy icing. A genius flavor combo that my body wants and needs. And the baker inside me just lives to recreate in my own kitchen.

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So on the last day of the year, I set out to make my very own Cranberry Bliss Bars. I added coconut because I’m cray cray for coconuts, but you can leave all the coconut ingredients out if you desire, by nixing the shredded coconut, and subbing coconut flour for oat flour and coconut oil/butter for nondairy spread. I think the coconut was a lovely addition though, and encourage you give it a whirl.

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What really ties these babies all together is the wee bit of orange zest in the frosting. I highly recommend you do NOT skip this addition. It adds such a brightness and tanginess to the cream cheese frosting; it is truly the mystery element that seals the deal and the reason behind the addictive nature of these babies.

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Make and enjoy a whole pan of unknowingly vegan and gluten-free Coconut Cranberry Bliss Bars for yourself and/or your loved ones. Wishing you a sweet and delicious 2015, xoxo, K-Bakes.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Level: Easy

makes one 9×9″ pan; serves about 12

Ingredients – Bars:

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (or sub additional oat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax + 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients – Frosting:

  • 6 ounces non-dairy cream cheese (I use Trader Joe’s; I find it better than several expensive brands!)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • zest of half an orange (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9″ baking sheet with parchment paper and/or grease lightly. Set aside. Remove cream cheese substitute from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature by setting aside for later. Place chia or flax in a small bowl with water, and allow to congeal, at least 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup coconut oil in a large microwave safe bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix well.

3. In a food processor or blender, pulse oats until a fine flour is formed. Add to bowl with coconut oil and sugar. Add coconut flour if using, as well as baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chia/water mixture. Mix gently until just combined and a batter is formed.

4. Fold in cranberries and shredded coconut. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden, fragrant, and/or the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and/or a toothpick comes out clean upon removal from the center of the cake.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. You can speed this up in the fridge or freezer if you desire. Meanwhile, prep frosting. Take softened cream cheese and place in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons solid (unmelted) coconut oil. Add vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well with an electric beater between each addition. Fold inΒ orange zest and coconut shreds.

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6. Once cake has cooled completely, cover with frosting using a spatula. Sprinkle additional dried cranberries and coconut shreds if desired. Cut into bars and EAT with a nice latte or cup of tea and feel just like you’re at Starbucks. πŸ™‚

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Happy 2015 !

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