Ah, you guys! Fall baking season is in full effect. I don’t care if it’s still nearly 90°F outside. My oven has been on and I’ve been baking up a storm. We’ve been LOVING these Gluten-Free Apple Pecan Oat Bars. We have been eating them for dessert, breakfast, and snacks. And we’re not tired of them yet!
Through the end of the year, I’ll be sharing more new recipes I’ve created using Pamela’s Products fab gluten-free mixes and all-purpose flour blends. It’s really fun – I’m not going to lie. This recipe was really fun to develop. It included an apple picking trip, which is an absolute must every fall.
The base of these is one of my favorite Pamela’s Products baking mixes – Oatmeal Cookie. The mix makes fantastic cookies as-is, but I always like to push things a little further and see how I can think outside of the box (bag).
I took the mix and cut in butter and chopped pecans until the whole mix was crumbly. Some of that becomes the crumb topping. The remainder is combined with eggs and applesauce to create a crust that is somewhere between chewy cookie and cake – almost like a pecan-studded spiced brownie. The filling is nothing more than fresh apples sliced as thinly as possible. The long baking time results in apples that are tender and sweet, a crust with just the right amount of browned edges (my favorite part), and crunchy-crispy streusel top. Mmm…they are everything you want an apple bar cookie to be.
A few Saturdays ago, we packed up the family and drove an hour north of where we live to a little town full of farms and orchards. Every time I look up places that allow you to pick-your-own produce, this town is always at the top of the list. We drove up and down windy mountain roads and found ourselves in a lovely little valley. The lush green trees contrasted the dried, yellow grasses that covered the rocky hills. I wish now, of course, that I had pulled out my camera and taken about a thousand photos of the blue, blue cloudless sky and gorgeous orchards with branches weighed down with blushing red, yellow, and green apples.
There was quite a bit of complaining on the drive up (not by the grown-ups) about how it was sooo boring to pick apples and how playing with friends was much more fun. And then we hopped out of the car. Each kid took off in a different direction and started plucking the juicy, ripe fruit from the laden branches. Pretty soon our 5 gallon bucket was full to the brim and everyone was ready to dig in and take that first bite of crisp, still-warm-from-the-sun apple. They declared it the Best Day Ever. (Naturally.)
We came home and dipped many apple slices in peanut butter, ate them raw as close to the core as possible so none was wasted, and of course, there were pan after pan of these delectable bars. We also have plans for applesauce, pie, ice cream, and fresh juice. But for now, these bars really hit the spot.
The idea for these apple and oat bars evolved out a of a conversation I had with my husband. I have to give him the bulk of the credit here for the idea because it was his. My mother-in-law makes these tasty streusel bars from an old German cookbook she has. My husband suggested that maybe that was the direction I should go. Can I tell you the truth? I didn’t want to do his idea. We had a little disagreement earlier that day and I was still a little cranky about it. I didn’t think his idea was going to work. I made the first test batch and they were so delicious I couldn’t stop eating them.
He asked me what I thought of them, but I didn’t want to tell him how good I thought they were because I’m a brat like that sometimes. Ha! But they were very good. Eventually I confessed how good they were and that hid idea was indeed a great one. I did a little bit of tweaking on subsequent batches and we finally reached perfection.
Check out these other recipes I’ve created using Pamela’s Products:
Pear Streusel Pie with Gluten-Free Crust
Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Gluten-Free Tamale Pie
4th of July Fruit Tart
Grilled Gluten-Free Skillet Cake
Pistachio Fig Pinwheel Cookies
Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches
Gluten-Free Peach Custard Bars
- 8 tablespoons butter or butter alternative, at room temperature
- One package Pamela's Products Oatmeal Cookie Mix
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1 pound apples
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the Pamela's Oatmeal Cookie Mix with the chopped pecans and cinnamon. Mix in the butter using a fork or electric mixer until crumbly. Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture. Add the applesauce, egg, and vanilla extract to the remaining mixture. Stir well to combine. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Set aside.
- Peel and core the apples. Cut into very thin slices. Toss them with the lemon juice. Arrange the apples in an even layer over the crust, allowing for them to overlap, if desired, to create a pretty pattern. Sprinkle the reserved ¾ cup of the oatmeal pecan mixture over the top of the apples.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the apples are soft and cooked through and the crust and topping are nicely browned. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
HOW-TO PHOTOS + TIPS
These bars are incredibly simple to make. And that’s just one of the best parts of this recipe.
Cinnamon is the perfect spice for these bars – just a hint, not too much. You can’t go wrong here. :)
Use cool to room temperature butter to mix into the dry ingredients. If the butter is too warm, it’s more difficult to make the tasty little clumps of dough for the topping.
Slicing the apples thinly means they will soften and become almost buttery when baked. Be sure to toss them with a little fresh lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. I like to nestle the apple slices a bit in the crust.
The topping doesn’t need to completely cover the apple slices – it’s just enough for a nice little crunch on top.
Baking the bars for about an hour is the right amount of time to thoroughly cook the cook and apples. The three layers meld together nicely. The browned edge is one of the very best parts.
The bars are really great on their own, but they are really good with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or whipped cream or coconut cream. Naturally, these are splendid warm from the oven. But they are equally delicious served at room temperature or chilled.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pamela’s Products as part of my ongoing relationship with them as a Baking Partner. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.