Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to make Holiday Bliss Cookies, inspired by Starbucks Bliss Bar from Cleo Coyle

Holiday Bliss (A week before Holiday Buzz)

To read more about
Holiday Buzz,

Click Here

Yes, one week from today is the official publication date for Holiday Buzz, the new book in my Coffeehouse Mystery series.

Today I'm kicking off an entire month of holiday recipes and contests. To wit: At the end of this post, I have two links where you can enter to win an autographed copy of my new book (one from a former police officer and loyal follower of this blog). Stay tuned and keep checking my online coffeehouse for more fun giveaways and recipes.

And speaking of recipes...

I'm happy to confirm that today's holiday recipe was inspired by the famous Cranberry Bliss Bar at Starbucks, a blondie bar with dried cranberries, cream cheese icing, and white chocolate drizzle.

The Starbucks Bliss Bar is a gorgeous pastry for the holiday season, but it's not the only inspiration for this post. Last year, I found out exactly how good cranberry and cream cheese are together when I combined them for my post on what to do with leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving dinner.

If you missed my "Baby Berry Pastries" post, you can download an illustrated PDF of the recipe by clicking here.

Cleo's Baby Berry Pastries
made from leftover cranberry sauce.
To download a PDF of this recipe,
click here.

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.
And speaking of cranberry sauce, last week many of you chose that as your favorite Thanksgiving food (besides turkey) in my foodie poll, although the winner of the poll (thus far) is actually stuffing. What came between stuffing #1 and cranberry sauce #3? Find out by clicking here and scrolling down to the poll.

BTW - If you leave a comment on my Copycat Twinkie Cupcakes post here, you'll be entered in my Kona coffee giveaway. (Because, really, what could go better with Kona than a home baked Twinkie in the form of a cupcake?)

So getting back to those Holiday Bliss Cookies...

If you do still have some cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving dinner, this is an outstanding use for it. And if you don't, well, make some more. You'll be glad you did.

Cleo Coyle’s 
Holiday Bliss Cookies
with "Pink Chocolate" Icing

The cranberry sauce in this recipe is not overpowering. It simply gives the cookie a light, fruity taste. Still, if you're not a fan of cranberry sauce, you can easily replace it with cherry preserves--or strawberry or raspberry preserves. The cookie is a very pretty one to include on holiday dessert trays. Presentation tip: Even if you swap out cranberries for cherry or strawberry preserves, use loose, whole cranberries as a decorative accent (as I did in my photos) to make your cookies really shine. May you bake and eat them with joy! 

 ~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes about 30 cookies (depending on size)


3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
¼ cup packed (2 ounces) of block cream cheese, softened (not whipped)
*3 tablespoons cranberry sauce (fresh or canned, *see my note)
¼ teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour

*Not a cranberry fan? Try this recipe with cherry, strawberry, or raspberry preserves.

Step 1: Make the batter – Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar, butter, and cream cheese. Add the cranberry sauce (or cherry preserves), salt, vanilla, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Mix in flour until well blended. Do not over-mix.

Step 2: Chill
– The dough will be too wet and sticky to roll at this stage. You must chill the dough 1 hour in the freezer or several hours in the fridge. After chilling, it will be firm enough to roll by hand.

Step 3: Roll, **flatten, and bake: Preheat your oven to 375° F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, drop in granulated sugar and coat. Place on a lined baking sheet. Butter the bottom of a glass, dip the bottom in sugar, and flatten your first ball of dough. Dip the glass in sugar again, and repeat until all the dough balls are flattened. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies completely before frosting with “pink” chocolate (see recipe below).

**Note on the rolling and flattening: The larger you make the ball of dough and the harder you press on the glass, the larger and thinner your cookies will be. Experiment with the size and thickness of your cookies until you get the kind you like best.

Cleo's “Pink Chocolate”
Bliss Frosting


2 tablespoons whole milk, half-and-half or light cream
   (do not use low fat milk)
1 cup of white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce (or cherry, strawberry, or raspberry preserves)

Directions: Heat the milk (or light cream or half-and-half) in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds—the milk should be very hot to the touch. Add the white chocolate chips and stir for about a minute. If the chips are not fully melted after a minute, place the bowl back in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir again. Finally, add the cranberry sauce (or preserves) and stir until you have your beautiful “pink chocolate” frosting. Work with the frosting while still warm. I spoon it onto the cookies and use the back of the spoon to lightly spread and smooth it into an even layer. 
Iced cookies will set in about 30 minutes. To speed up the process, simply chill the cookies in the refrigerator.

Note: If you don’t have a microwave, create a double boiler by placing a glass or other heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Warm the milk, then add the chips and stir continually until melted. Take the bowl off the heat and stir in the cranberry sauce (or preserves).

WARNING:  Take care to mix the cranberry sauce (or preserves) as instructed in the recipe--i.e., after the chocolate is melted into the milk. If you try to "save time" by adding the cranberry sauce to the milk before heating, you will end up with a fugly gray mess! (Ask me how I know.)

F O O D I E 
p h o t o s!

See my step-by-step photos of this recipe in a downloadable Recipe PDF that you can print, save, or share.

Click here
to see the PDF.

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

is on...

My new
Coffeehouse Mystery
will be on sale

December 4th!

an autographed

copy of Holiday Buzz!

First Way:
Leave a comment on the blog post
of a loyal follower of this blog
(and former police officer):

To jump to Kathy's blog, 
Click Here.

Second Way:
Sign up to win
1 of 5 autographed
copies at

Click here.

A Mystery Guild Featured
Alternate Selection

A Barnes & Noble
Holiday Mystery Pick

Publisher's Weekly
“Sprightly…and engaging.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Jingle bells, beautiful displays, scrumptious treats:
Holiday season in New York City has it all, including murder…
Coyle’s coffeehouse series captures the New York experience,
from high-society parties to gritty back-street deals.
The fine mystery is followed by some holiday recipes that
will even pack the pounds on readers who are only browsing them.”

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


Happy Holidays
and Happy Reading! 

~ Cleo


  1. Congratulations on Holiday Buzz. I loved it. I won't mention anything here to spoil it. I will say it is one of the best. Clare out does herself in this one.

    We have tried the home made Twinkies and they were a hit. We will have to try the Holiday Bliss cookies. We do have some cranberries left why not use them.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Babs Book Bistro

  2. These are gorgeous Cleo--I think I will try them with raspberry...

    Can't wait for the new book!!!! xo

  3. These cookies look amazing! Thanks for the link to my blog-here's hoping for lots of new comments for me and lots of new readers for you!

  4. Yet another post filled with stunning photos, great recipes and a contest or two, to boot!!

    As a lucky ARC owner I can say that I am so Buzz'ed by Holiday Buzz! Can't want to share it with my friends and family as terrific Christmas gifts. Now if only I could eat dairy...

  5. What pretty cookies! Lovely for the season. I love when someone figures out a good recipe for a place like Starbuck's. Thanks for the share.

    And Holiday Buzz will keep us all buzzing, right? Have fun with the launch.


    Daryl aka Avery

  6. Avery, Nanc, Katreader, Lucy, and Babs - Thank you so much for stopping by today. I appreciate your comments. I'm working the downloadable PDF now and should have it up shortly. Then I'll come back to reply with more...

    To quote the Terminatore: "I'll be back..." :)

    ~ Cleo
    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Beautiful cookies, Cleo. The only problem is that I love cranberries so much that I never have leftovers! Maybe I'll put some aside the next time I make them -- and try not to eat them before I have a chance to make the frosting!

    ~ Krista

    1. Thanks, Krista, and I'm glad to hear you're also a lover of that pretty little red berry. For me, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it. (BTW - If I were able to enter your cookie contest, I'd be sending you this one!)

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter