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Gluten Free Apple Snickerdoodle Bars

November 20, 2020
At a Glance

Summary

The slight tang and cinnamon-sugar flavor of snickerdoodles meets the rich apple flavor of apple butter in this simple recipe for gluten free apple snickerdoodle bars. Cookie bars are cookies’ lazy cousin, and that’s a compliment!

Categories

Prep / Cook Time

10 minutes / 25 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (4 votes)
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Gluten Free Apple Snickerdoodle Bars

Gluten free apple snickerdoodle bars have all the taste of snickerdoodles in an easy bar cookie, with plenty of rich apple butter for flavor.

Apple snickerdoodle cookie bar with glaze drizzle on a small white plate

Snickerdoodles are those thin and chewy cinnamon-sugar cookies with the tangy bite and bumpy lumpy tops. In my experience, the most universally beloved flavors of baked goods are: vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, and lemon. Each deserves at least one cookie.

I don’t make a lot of cookie bars, since they aren’t as beautiful as cutout or drop cookies. But cookies have to go in the oven and out of the oven, spaced inches apart from one another, over and over. It can be a bit of a drag sometimes.

These snickerdoodle cookie bars are pressed into one standard 9-inch square pan, and then baked. You can slice them into generous bars, making only 9 total, or even slice them into thin fingers for dipping into a sweet dip for a little celebration.

The recipe does not translate well into drop cookies, though, if you were wondering. I started out making drop cookies, but the recipe, especially with the addition of thick and rich apple butter, was just too precious and prone to failing. These bars work every time, even if you cut a corner or two.

Apple snickerdoodle bars overhead image of bars in pan and on small white plates

What’s apple butter, and why are we baking with it?

I love applesauce, in every form imaginable. I love it smooth from the jar (unsweetened, please), and I love my own homemade super-chunk kind.

But applesauce, when used in baking, doesn’t taste like much of anything at all. If you want to flavor something with apples, you either need to use apples themselves (think apple pie, apple pie cookies, apple peanut butter cookies oh my!)—or apple butter.

Like pumpkin butter and pumpkins/squash, apple butter is made by cooking down peeled and cored apples with sweetener and spices. Cooking the apples breaks them down, like applesauce, but continuing to cook them concentrates and intensifies the flavors and reduces the moisture for a thicker paste.

I know it can be disappointing when one of my recipes calls for an ingredient that isn’t something you always have on hand, like pumpkin or apple butter. But I highly recommend you make a large batch of apple butter to use in recipes or just on a piece of toast all season long.

You might be able to take an apple butter shortcut, too. Try adding the sweetener and spices to jarred smooth applesauce, in place of the fresh apples, and cooking it down as you would the fresh stuff.

apple snickerdoodle bars raw in pan with white paper

What’s that white drizzle on top?

The drizzle on top of each bar you see in the photos is just the simplest confectioners’ sugar glaze. It’s made by placing about 1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, and then adding water or another liquid (milk, apple juice, etc.) slowly until you have a thickly pourable glaze.

I place the glaze into a piping bag or zip-top bag with the very corner snipped, and drizzle the glaze in a zigzag pattern on top of each cookie bar. It adds a little visual interest.

The cookies are sweet enough as is, so the glaze is not necessary for taste. But it does make the bars look pretty, since cookie bars are so terribly quick to make, compared to regular cookies, but not quite as naturally beautiful sometimes.

Apple snickerdoodle cookie bars baked in pan on wire rack

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

The only dairy in these cookie bars is butter. You should be able to successfully replace that with vegan butter. My favorite brands are Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen.

Eggs

There are three full eggs in this recipe, and they are responsible for a lot of the texture of the bars. You could try replacing them with one “chia egg” each, but I’m not terribly optimistic.

Apple butter

You cannot make this recipe with applesauce in place of apple butter. Please see the full discussion of apple butter above.

If you have pumpkin butter, it might be worth trying to replace the apple butter with that, and the apple pie spice with pumpkin pie spice. But when I tried to replace the pumpkin butter in our recipe for gluten free pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies, it did not work. At all.

Apple snickerdoodle cookie bars cut but still in pan with glaze

Single Apple Snickerdoodle Cookie Bar on plate and image of bars overlapping in pan

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 9 to 12 bars, depending on size

Ingredients

For the cookies
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice (See Recipe Notes)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

3/8 cup (82 g) packed light brown sugar

9 tablespoons (126 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

5 ounces apple butter (homemade or store-bought), at room temperature

3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

For the topping
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9-inch square baking pan and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, apple pie spice, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar and mix, breaking up any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the melted butter, apple butter, and eggs, and mix until combined. The dough will be thick, but soft.

  • In a small bowl, place the granulated sugar and cinnamon for the topping, and mix to combine. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar in a thin layer in the prepared pan. Place the cookie dough in mounds, scattered evenly over the interior surface of the pan, on top of the cinnamon-sugar. Using a moistened spatula, press the cookie dough into a single layer, and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar again on top of the cookie dough, in a thin, single layer.

  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until just firm to the touch all the way to the center. Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a wire rack, and allow it to cool completely before slicing into squares and serving.

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • George G
    February 21, 2021 at 5:19 PM

    Thanks Nicole,
    Your suggestions worked. I used a real egg white, made a new batch of gum free flour mix and took it out of the oven at 20 minutes. They were nice and crisp. Now that I have that recipe worked out, that makes 17 of your cookie/bar recipes successfully baked. That leaves only 99 left to try! Actually I don’t know how many you have, do you? Thanks again, and now on to the next one!

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 22, 2021 at 7:43 AM

      Glad you had a better result, George. There are nearly 900 recipes on the blog!

  • George G
    February 20, 2021 at 11:36 AM

    Hi Nicole, sorry for not giving enough detail. The flour was your gum free blend. I measured by weight. The temperature was what you recommended. I had no bittersweet chocolate, so I made it with baking chocolate, adding 2 tsp sugar for each oz of chocolate. I’ve never been able to find unsalted Melt, so I cut the salt back to 1/4 tsp. I didn’t have any mini-chips, so I cut up some regular sized chips. I’m pretty sure I was using the superfine rice flour, but at some point I made the changeover from non-superfine rice flour. If this was not superfine rice flour, would the resting period you mentioned help? But I just found out that the pan was a little bit smaller than recommended. 12 x 16 instead of 13 x 18. Would that do it?

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 20, 2021 at 2:21 PM

      If you don’t use superfine rice flour, George, the ingredients won’t combine properly no matter what. Yes, a smaller pan can make a difference, but mostly it sounds like you overbaked them. Baked goods like these aren’t crispy right out of the oven. They crisp as they cool. You bake until they no longer glisten. Always make a recipe exactly as written the first time, including following instructions for when to judge when something is done.

  • George G
    February 19, 2021 at 8:37 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    This is the first post I could find with comments still open since I tried the brownie crisps. I’m trying to figure out why mine came out crumbly, not crunchy. I used Melt butter, and egg white powder and water and otherwise followed the recipe. When I took them out of the oven after 20 minutes, they seemed too soft, so I gave them 5 more minutes. Did I overcook, or something else?

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 20, 2021 at 10:10 AM

      I’m afraid it’s not possible for me to know where else you deviated from the recipe as written, George. Perhaps your pan was too small, or you didn’t measure by weight, used a flour blend that isn’t one of my recommended ones. There are many variables. Also, I don’t recommend rehydrated egg whites for baking.

  • Michele Allen
    February 8, 2021 at 10:43 PM

    My 6 year old grandson absolutely loves this gluten free dessert! This and cheesecake are his favorites. Thank-you so much for this recipe! I will try some of your other recipes!❤️

  • Carol Forquer
    December 1, 2020 at 11:42 AM

    Love your gluten free recipes, so good and so easy to make . Had Celiac for 12 years and I hated the diet, so inconvenient and it just doesn’t taste as good! But there are so many more options out there now to make it easier and it does taste better. I love your recipes, there hasn’t been one I have made, I didn’t like. So kind of you to share all your tips & recipes. Thank you again!

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 1, 2020 at 11:48 AM

      I’m so glad to hear that, Carol. Thank you so much for letting me know and yes, 12 years ago there really wasn’t much of anything to buy that was worth the price tag, or many recipes that tasted “normal.” That’s around the time I started this blog, for just those reasons! So glad it’s serving you well.

  • Thomas K
    November 24, 2020 at 9:08 AM

    Nicole, I can’t seem to work through your recipes fast enough! I was all set to make your Pumpkin Donut Muffins from 2014 as an easy dessert for Thanksgiving, but then you came out with this recipe… and I about had a crisis. Lol! I guess since I already made the pumpkin butter for the muffins, I’ll have to wait until Christmas for these. :) Thank you so much for all the work you do! Your recipes are such a blessing!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 24, 2020 at 9:32 AM

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Thomas. That means so much to me that you feel an abundance of things you want to make. That’s the best problem to have. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • Erin
    November 22, 2020 at 10:59 AM

    I recently had to go gluten free and finding recipes that look good and taste good are hard. Especially when you don’t even know about Xanthan gum and Gluten free flour until you try, and fail, that you start looking up different ways to do something so simple as chocolate chip cookies. You and you recipes and directions have been a Huge help in prepping this years dessert that I have to say Thank You So Much.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 22, 2020 at 11:05 AM

      You’re so welcome, Erin, and thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, baking gluten free has a high learning curve, just as you described (at first, you don’t even know what you don’t know!), but it’s usually over fast. I’m so glad I’ve been able to help, since everything you eat should taste good!

  • Jean A Fater
    November 22, 2020 at 10:43 AM

    Ohmygosh! Nicole! Snickerdoodles with ease! These do bring back fond memories for me. My mother, whom I have been missing greatly of late, used to make snickerdoodles for us when we were kids, as a quick after school treat. Oh how the house would smell so good when we walked in the door! Cookies were her specialty especially around the holidays, the fancier the better, and she would stay up for hours baking. But snickerdoodles were always our favorite, and these take me back! Delish!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 22, 2020 at 11:03 AM

      Aw, Jean, that’s such a lovely memory! I do have a recipe for non-apple snickerdoodles on the blog, too, if you’d like the most classic version. Just use the search function.

  • Susan duncan
    November 21, 2020 at 4:21 AM

    How do I make homemade apple butter please not sure where to buy it thanks

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 21, 2020 at 3:49 PM

      Please click the link to get my recipe for homemade apple butter in the recipe, Susan. It’s another blog page that walks you through it!

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