Due to Covid we are celebrating a little different this year;but, as we recently wrote, that doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate. You can still safely drop off socially distanced gifts or baking to those special people in your life, to brighten their holiday. While making baking trays, you want some easy recipes that yield a lot of pieces to spread the cheer around. That’s where tray bakes, or squares, come in handy. They offer you a tasty way to have a great selection without a lot of work. Today, I’m sharing the recipe for a gluten-free Fat Albert bar. Like our Chocolate Caramel Cookie bar, it’s another favourite. Sometimes called nut bars, these are a perfect mix of caramel, nuts, over a crunchy graham cracker base. I’ve adapted this family classic bar into a gluten-free recipe so I can continue to enjoy them even though I’m gluten intolerant.
The graham cracker base comes from grain changer. This is one recipe, which I have not adapted. Why you ask? The recipe works perfectly. The only change I’ve had is how you cook it, so instead of making crackers, we’re making a single layer crust. This means the cooking of it differs from the original. The recipe will yield two thin crusts that fit 9”x13” glass baking dishes. So, you can either make a second graham cracker crust based cookie bar-like I do, with my family-favourite gluten-free Hello Dolly recipe– or make some graham crackers, or make half of the recipe. I love that one recipe gives me two 9”x13” bases for squares.
Without further ado here is our gluten-free Fat Albert bar recipe.
Gluten-Free Fat Albert Bar Recipe
Graham Cracker Base
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour- I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
- ½ cup almond meal
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 7 Tablespoons COLD butter
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (gluten-free)
Fat Albert Bar
- 1/2 lb butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed.
- 1 cup roasted crushed hazelnuts or another nut of your choosing. Almonds work just as well.
Preheat your oven to 325°.
- Measure a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and up the sides of a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Ensure there is some overhang, so you can manoeuvre it out of the pan afterwards. Using your thumb mark/score the bottom of parchment lightly (you don’t want to cut the paper) so that you can see where the crust needs to fit. Remove parchment and set aside.
- Spray a 9”x13” glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, xanthan gum, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.
- Cut the butter into very small cubes (or grate) and then cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives. Combine until the mixture has a coarse, uniform consistency (no lumps!)
- In a separate, small bowl, combine the honey, water, and vanilla, stirring well. Then add the honey mixture to the large bowl, and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Once combined, separate into two equal balls of dough.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 15 minutes.
- Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator, and place on the parchment. Cover the dough with one large piece of plastic wrap (helps to prevent the dough from sticking) and roll the dough out to an even thickness which covers your 9” x 13” rectangle.
- Lift the parchment gently into the greased 9”x13” glass baking dish. Make any adjustments needed for an even base. You don’t want cookie up the sides so cut any extra away with a butter knife and patch any areas that need it or add it back to the other ball of dough.
- Gently dock the base, by making indents with a fork. Do not poke through the dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
Fat Albert Bar
- Remove graham cracker base from the oven and increase oven temperature to 350°.
- Toast your whole nuts gently in a frying pan. When the nuts get lightly browned and aromatic, you know they are done. Stir nuts continually, so they don’t burn.
- Let cool slightly and then pulse in food processor. I like mine in a coarse chop, not too fine. You don’t want them the constancy of meal. If you like a bigger chunk of nut, you may want to increase the amount to 1 1/2 cups or 2 cups accordingly.
- In a pan on the stove top, melt the butter and sugar together until smooth and fully incorporated. This should be done with a whisk. To know if your caramel is smooth enough put a metal spoon in the freezer before you start the recipe. Using your whisk drop a bit of caramel on the spoon. Let cool a few seconds then taste. If the caramel is grainy cook longer, whisking throughout. Once the caramel is fully incorporated and smooth, pour evenly over the graham base.
- Sprinkle the toasted chopped nuts of your choice, in an even layer over caramel.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until the top is bubbling, slightly.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Then using the parchment, lift out of the glass baking sheet and place on a large cutting board or cookie tray, to cool completely.
- Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.
- Once cut place in an airtight container separating the layers with parchment or wax paper.
This recipe freezes very well. If you have left overs you can put them in labelled freezer bags or containers and keep them up to 3 months. Don’t forget to put them on your freezer inventory list– as we had suggested to help keep your freezer organized in a previous post.
No one will ever guess this recipe is gluten-free because the taste and texture are exactly like the original recipe. This (now gluten-free) Fat Albert bar recipe is a traditional part of my Christmas and I hope it will become part of yours. Did you try this recipe or do you plan to try it? What’s your favourite Christmas cookie or square recipe? Please let us know in the comments.