Gluten Free Gingerbread Cranberry Crumble Bars

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A small batch recipe for gluten free gingerbread bars with a festive cranberry filling and gingerbread crumble topping.  The tart cranberry jam pairs nicely with the warm spices in the soft almond flour gingerbread bars.  Finish the bars with orange glaze for a zesty and sweet Christmas dessert!

gluten free Gingerbread Cranberry Crumble Bars

Gingerbread cranberry bars are a festive way to celebrate the holidays.  Warm and spicy gingerbread, and tart and sweet cranberry is a duo that is notorious for the season.  Besides, I am partial to gingerbread and fruit – just check out the vanilla orange gingerbread cake!

These gingerbread bars feature a flavorful almond flour blend that bake chewy bars.  And just like my cranberry crumble bars, the bars wouldn’t be complete without a sweet and nutty crumble topping!  Reserved gingerbread dough is combined with buttery pecans to top the holiday bars.

Gluten free gingerbread cranberry bar slice side view on a piece of parchment paper.

everything you’ll love about these Gluten Free Gingerbread bars

  • Chewy – The gingerbread cookie base is soft and chewy.  And when the cranberries bake on top of it, the gingerbread gets wonderfully caramelly!
  • Sweet and Spicy – There is a harmonious balance of sweet and spices in every layer.  
  • Best Flavor Combos – Gingerbread, cranberry, and orange make for the most profound flavor in one bite!
  • They Don’t Taste Gluten Free – Like all of my gluten free recipes, I want to make sure they don’t have the stereotypical gluten free taste.  My gluten free desserts are rich, buttery, and sweet.
  • Pretty Holiday Dessert – When you add the orange drizzle, the cranberry bars are pretty enough to adorn any holiday table!

What You Need To Make cranberry Gluten Free Gingerbread Bars

Ingredients

  • Fresh Cranberries – Are always best, but you can use frozen cranberries as well.  
  • Orange – We use the zest and juice from about 1/2 of an orange.
  • Tapioca Flour – Acts as a thickener for the cranberry filling.
  • Almond Flour – Blanched almond flour provides structure, flavor, and moisture.
  • Arrowroot Flour – Combines with the almond flour for soft and tender bars.
  • Baking Soda – For a little leavener.
  • Salt – Great flavor enhancer!
  • Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves – The ideal spices for gingerbread.  The same I use in my gingerbread cut-out cookies.
  • Molasses – Combine with the spices, molasses is a must for classic gingerbread flavor.  And it makes a delicious gingerbread latte syrup!
  • Unsalted Butter – We use unsalted because we control the salt amount on our own.
  • Sugar – I like to use organic cane sugar because it isn’t as refined as white table sugar.
  • Vanilla – Flavor!

Baking Equipment

  • Hand Held Mixer – See the Notes in the recipe for using a stand mixer.
  • Mixing Bowls
  • 6-Inch Square Cake Pan – The bars can also be baked in a round 6-inch cake pan, or 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Close up of cranberry gingerbread bar with a creamy drizzle of orange icing.

Tips For Making Gingerbread Cranberry Bars

  • Use fresh cranberries – I always prefer fresh with in season!  And I find fresh fruit has a 
  • Don’t forget to reserve some of the gingerbread dough for the crumble topping!
  • Toast the pecans – Toasting the pecans will punch up their flavor.
  • Use a stand mixer to make the dough – Even though it is a small batch dough, you can use your standard tilt-head mixer and attachments with a smaller 3-quart mixing bowl.  The dough is a little sticky and the stand mixer will give your arm a rest!
  • Don’t worry if the pre-baked gingerbread dough is not fully baked – Because we don’t want it to be.  It will continue to bake once you assemble and bake the bars.
  • The dough will not make cut-out gingerbread cookies – If you are looking to just make the gingerbread into cookies, the dough is too soft to make cut-out cookies that keep their shape.  
  • The gingerbread dough will make drop cookies – Think chocolate chip cookies, molasses cookies, and double chocolate cookies.  Just like those cookies, the gingerbread dough can be scooped and baked.
A pretty stack of cranberry gingerbread bars with orange icing on a white plate.

faq’s: Gluten Free Gingerbread Cranberry Bars

Can I double the recipe to make a larger batch of the bars?

I have not tested doubling the recipe, but you can certainly try and let me know! If you do double the recipe, I recommend at least an 8-inch baking pan.

Will the gingerbread dough work to make cut-out gingerbread cookies?

The dough is too soft, so it will not make cut-out cookies that keep their shape. However, you can use the dough to make drop cookies.

Can I replace the almond flour with a 1:1 gluten free flour blend?

Probably not. I find the 1:1 blends to be much drier than my almond flour blends. Other ingredient ratios would likely need to be adjusted as well.

Why do I have to pre-bake the gingerbread?

Pre-baking the gingerbread will make it so the cranberry filling doesn’t bake into the dough.

Can I freeze the gingerbread dough?

Yes. Shape the dough into a disc and tightly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. Press the thawed gingerbread in the baking pan and follow the instructions to bake and assemble.

Can I freeze assembled and baked bars?

Yes. Tightly wrap the un-iced bars in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature when ready to serve. Drizzle with icing when ready to serve.

Gluten free gingerbread cranberry bars with orange icing arrange on a table.
Two gluten free gingerbread cranberry bars stacked and drizzled with orange icing.
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Gluten Free Gingerbread Cranberry Bars

Yield: 6 Bars
A small batch recipe for gluten free gingerbread bars with a festive cranberry filling and gingerbread crumble topping.  The tart cranberry jam pairs nicely with the warm spices in the soft almond flour gingerbread bars.  Finish the bars with orange glaze for a zesty and sweet Christmas dessert!
Prep20 mins
Cook44 mins
Chill30 mins
Total1 hr 34 mins

Ingredients

Gluten Free Gingerbread Bars

Cranberry Filling

  • 1 and 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch/flour (or corn starch)

Crumble Topping

  • 1/4 cup reserved gingerbread dough
  • 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped (toasting optional)

Orange Icing

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Instructions

Gluten Free Gingerbread Bars

  • Line a 6-inch square cake pan with parchment paper – Cut two strips of parchment to fit the sides of the pan, and long enough to hang over the sides. Line the pan with the paper strips crossed. This creates a sling to lift the bars out of the pan.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar. Using a hand held mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the molasses, egg yolk, and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated and smooth. Tip – See the Notes for using a stand mixer.
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and beat on medium low speed until no dry streaks remain.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of the dough for the crumble topping in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Press the remaining gingerbread dough evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the dough has time to firm up and hydrate.
  • While the gingerbread is chilling or pre-baking, prepare the filling and crumble topping.
  • With 15 minutes of chill time remaining, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Pre-bake the gingerbread for 11 to 12 minutes, or until the edges and top are set. Note – The bars will not be baked completely during this pre-bake. We want the edges and the top to have a slight bake so the cranberry filling doesn't settle into the dough.
  • Set the pre-baked gingerbread on a wire cooling rack for 2 to 3 minutes. It does not need to cool completely. Keep the oven on.

Cranberry Filling

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, sugar, both gingers, cinnamon, and tapioca flour. Toss to mix and coat the cranberries thoroughly. Set aside. Note – If using frozen cranberries, I don't recommend thawing them as they will release too much moisture. If using fresh cranberries, make sure they have had time to dry after rinsing to clean them.

Crumble Topping

  • Optional – To toast the pecans, sprinkle them on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the pre-heating oven. Let cool slightly then chop.
  • In the bowl with the reserved gingerbread, add the almond flour and pecans. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Assemble the bars to bake – Spoon the cranberry filling on top of the pre-baked gingerbread. It is fine if the gingerbread is warm. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top of the cranberries. Note – If the cranberry filling has a lot of liquid, use a slotted spoon to spoon the cranberry filling on top of the crust. An excessive amount of liquid will make the gingerbread bars too moist.
  • Bake the bars for 30 to 33 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and cranberries are bubbly. Note – If the topping is browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Cool the bars completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack. We cool in the pan so the filling has time to set. When ready to serve, gently lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper sling. Cut the bars into desired shapes and sizes, drizzle with orange icing and Enjoy!

Orange Icing

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, orange zest (if using), and 1 teaspoon of orange juice. Stir, and add more liquid as necessary until you reach your desired icing consistency. Note – Add extra liquid in about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon increments. A little will go a long way to make the icing.
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Notes

  • Serving Size – This is a small batch recipe and tested as a small batch.  I can’t say for certain how doubling the recipe will work.  However, I would recommend at least an 8-inch baking pan for a larger batch.
  • Baking Pans – You can also use a 6-inch round cake pan or 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  • Using A Stand Mixer – You can use a standard mixer with attachments with a smaller 3-quart mixing bowl.  The standard size mixing bowl will just smear the ingredients along the side of the bowl.
  • Gingerbread Dough For Cookies – This dough is too soft to make cut-out gingerbread cookies, but can make drop cookies.
  • Freezing The Dough – The dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.  Shape into a disc, wrap tightly, and freeze.  Thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing Baked Bars – Un-iced bars can be frozen for up to 2 months.  Wrap tightly, freeze, thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature when ready to serve. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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