You know those popular coffee shop cranberry bliss bars that come out every holiday season? Buttery shortbread dotted with dried cranberries, topped with a sweet cream cheese icing — and sometimes are just a little too sweet? Well, these Baking Therapy cranberry bars are inspired by those, but even better! This soft and buttery pistachio shortbread is topped with fresh, tart, in-season cranberries that are bursting with flavour. Finished with a sweet and addictive white chocolate, cream cheese icing. Need I say more?
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease 9×9 square pan. Set aside.
First, whip up the shortbread. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, pistachios, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Beat on low until just combined, texture will be crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for the crumble, press remaining dough firmly into bottom of pan.
Now for the filling: in a medium bowl, toss together cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Evenly distribute the cranberries onto the cookie layer. Top with the reserved cookie dough and pack down firmly.
Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing.
For the icing: place the chopped white chocolate or chips in a small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add in the icing sugar and whisk on high to combine. Add the melted white chocolate and milk and whisk on high for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a piping bag and drizzle over top.