Starbucks sells a cranberry bliss bar that lots of bakers have been able to re-create at home. One of them is Debbie Crowe, whose recipe was part of our Austin360 Holiday Cookie Contest. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Among the many submissions to our holiday cookie contest were cookie bars, which in my mind are cookies because you can eat them without a fork and they’re small enough that you can eat a few at a time.

Although we didn’t end up with any bars in our top five, we decided to publish three bar recipes that very nearly cracked into the finalist round.

Reader Amy Robertson’s holiday squares use raspberry jam, raisins, walnuts and oats, a lovely combination of sweet with just a hint of the bitter from the walnuts and the slight chew of the oats. Laurie Nelson wasn’t afraid of rocking the pecan pie boat by adding both spices and chocolate to her pie-inspired bars, and with this blondie recipe, Debbie Crowe convinced me that I do like white chocolate, as long as it’s paired with cranberries and cream cheese frosting.

Cranberry Ginger Blondies

Crowe, who lives in Lakeway, has been working on her copycat recipe for the popular Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bar. Line the pan with parchment paper for the easiest removal.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger
1 cup dried cranberries
4 oz. white chocolate chips
For the frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, brown sugar and salt. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until fluffy.

Add flour, baking powder and ginger. Stir until well mixed. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in a 12-inch-by-16-inch baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Combine the first four frosting ingredients and mix until smooth. Frost uncut bars and sprinkle with dried cranberries. Cut into shape of your choice and arrange on holiday platter.

— From Debbie Crowe