Cranberry blondies are simple and easy yet indulgent and festive. They’re suited to any and every occasion, from weeknight cravings to holiday potlucks, and they’re freezer-friendly, too!
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Brownies have always been one of my all-time favorite desserts, but since I’ve discovered blondies, they’ve been giving their chocolate cousins a run for their money. Blondies are blond because they get their delicious caramel flavor from brown sugar and vanilla extract, whereas brownies are brown because they contain cocoa powder and chocolate. I’m explaining this in case blondies are new to you, just as they were to me not so long ago. You see, blondies aren’t a dessert I grew up with, so I learned about their deliciousness only as an adult. You’d better believe I’ve been making up for all those lost years ever since!
What I like most about blondies is that their flavor is super versatile. You can make a tray of blondies straight up and enjoy their aromatic butterscotch flavor. But if you’ve got other staples on hand—say nuts, dried fruits, or white chocolate chips—you can mix some into your blondie batter and the resulting treat takes on an entirely new personality. Feeling ambitious? You can even mix in fresh fruits, such as blueberries, apples, or—my favorite—fresh cranberries.
Fresh cranberries are very tart, which is why I like them so much in desserts. Add cranberries to a super sweet treat and they will balance out the flavors and add some zing, much like lemon does. I use fresh cranberries in a variety of desserts, such as financiers and muffins, but they work especially well in my cranberry blondies. In this recipe, I incorporate melted white chocolate for an extra tender, extra gooey texture, and since white chocolate is very sweet, the addition of tart cranberries creates the perfect balance—and adds a beautiful pop of color, too!
I like to make these fresh cranberry blondies during the holidays, of course, but it’s also the kind of treat I keep a stash of in the freezer. Indeed, cranberry blondies freeze perfectly: once baked, let the blondies cool completely, then cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Whenever you feel like one, take however many you need out of the freezer and let them come back to room temperature for 20 minutes, or better yet, warm them up in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes to revive that freshly baked aroma.
Cranberry blondies are simple and easy, yet indulgent and festive. They’re suited to any and every occasion, from weeknight cravings to holiday potlucks. For a special touch, serve them sprinkled with powdered sugar, or, for a special treat, slathered with hazelnut spread.
You can use fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries to make these blondies.
Fresh cranberries are crunchy, so I slice them in half before incorporating them into the blondies. They soften perfectly during the baking process.
Frozen cranberries will turn tender as they thaw, so there is no need to slice them before using them in the recipe. Since whole cranberries take up a lot more space in a measuring cup, make sure that 1/3 cup is overflowing with cranberries so you get plenty in the blondies.
Dried cranberries are much sweeter than fresh or frozen cranberries, so I would reduce the quantity used to ¼ cup (60 ml), packed, so the blondies don’t turn out overly sweet.
Brown butter is an incredibly aromatic ingredient, and it’s easy to make, too. Simply melt and simmer regular butter until its solids turn to a hazelnut color. You’re done! Substitute brown butter for the regular one used in this recipe, and you’ll be amazed by the depth of flavor it adds. I didn’t specify this technique to keep the recipe super easy and straightforward, but to be honest, I always use brown butter in blondies.
If you’ve never made brown butter before, make sure to read my How To Make Brown Butter article, which comes complete with a short demonstration video. Soon enough, I know you’ll want to use this delightful ingredient in all the sweet and savory dishes, just like I do.
Just as with brownies, the biggest mistake you can make is to overbake the blondies. Blondies are perfectly tender and slightly gooey when they’re “just baked.” Cranberry blondies are ready when they’re puffed up and light golden brown around the edges. They should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and look set and dry through to the middle of the pan. They will deflate a little after you take them out of the oven and get their signature wavy look towards the sides of the pan.
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