Monday, December 3, 2012

Scandinavian Almond Bars {traditional and gluten free recipes}

Scandinavian Almond Bars recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Flaky, tender, almond flavored shortbread bars are topped with sliced almonds and drizzled with a very light glaze. These bars are the most requested baked good that I make. Luckily, they keep perfectly in the freezer, so I can quadruple the batch and store them until I need them.

I've been making Scandinavian Almond Bars for several years now, however a gluten-free version has been my nemesis for over two years. I've bombed at least 2 dozen batches of these trying to get the texture just right. It is making me laugh that success finally happened through no brilliance on my own part.

I had planned to try yet another variation, when I realized that I had run out of the flours I planned to use. I simply grabbed the remaining oat flour in the pantry and added it in. The bars were wonderful! Slightly more nutty with the mild flavored oat flour and a tiny bit heartier than their predecessor, these just might trump the original for my own personal favorite.

Scandinavian Almond Bars {traditional and gluten free recipes}
Yield: 18 - 24 bars, depending on how narrow the bars are sliced
(printable recipe)

Main ingredients:
1 cup brown rice flour *
1/2 cup tapioca starch *
1/4 cup potato starch *
3/4 cup oat flour *
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum *
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
* if you are not in need of a gluten free version of this recipe, simply use 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour for the items marked with an *

1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1-2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the egg and the almond extract and then mix until light and fluffy. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until combined. 
Press the dough into the bottom of a thoroughly buttered 9x13 pan. Press with your fingers or a pastry roller to smooth the top of the dough. The gluten free dough is a bit stickier than the traditional version. I found that it was easiest to place a sheet of parchment or wax paper on top of the dough and press it into the pan with my hands that way.

Using a pastry brush, brush a tiny bit of milk across the top of the dough. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and very lightly press them into the top of the dough. Bake for 18-22 minutes. The Gluten Free version required a full 22 minutes to finish baking. Remove from the oven when they are just barely beginning to brown and they look dry around the edges. Do not let them actually brown at all. If they brown, they will be much more crunchy than desired, once they cool. The goal is a very soft shortbread texture.

Let the bars cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then cut into bars. If they are too soft to cut, let them cool for a few more minutes. Remove them carefully (they will be quite soft) to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. Prepare the icing, adding just a tiny bit of milk at a time. If the consistency is too thick, it won't drizzle nicely over the bars. If it is too thin, the icing will just melt into the bars. If you are unsure, test a bit of it on the edge of one bar before drizzling the icing over the entire batch.

Leave the bars on the wire rack until the icing is firm enough to handle. These bars store quite well in the freezer. I can usually fit 2 dozen in a gallon size ziploc bag, with a sheet of wax paper separating the layers. When you are ready to eat them, just set them on the counter about half an hour before hand. I typically plate them while they are still frozen, because they are easy to handle that way. Enjoy!


  1. Mary I adore almond extract - it is so tempting to put it in everything! You have really worked hard this year adapting recipes for gluten free perfection. These are beautiful and I bet they are enjoyed by everyone! Lovely recipe.

  2. Don't you just love it when you finally get a recipe to work perfectly!! Nicely done.. these look amazing!

  3. I made these bars, dark chocolate almond fudge and peanut butter fudge for Christmas. Thanks!

  4. I made these....they are to die for!

  5. I'd like to make these, they sound delicious. But the quantities of flour have me a little perplexed. The GF flours add up to 2 1/2 cups, vs the 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour. Yet you remark that the GF version tends to be sticky. Are these amounts correct?
    I've put enough sad experiments out for the birds to be cautious.

    1. I understand your hesitation completely. I played with this recipe for over two years before I was happy with the GF version. The measurements as you listed them are correct. It simply requires a good bit more flour to make the GF version hold together and create the shortbread texture that I love. I hope that helps!

  6. Looks divine and I am sure they taste divine also.

  7. These are amazingly good! Thanks!!