Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Apple Butter Frosting
Soft and chewy snickerdoodle cookie bars topped with apple butter frosting that won’t require a trip to the store to buy cream of tartar.
Snickerdoodle cookies were one of the first cookie recipes I learned to make.
When you learned baking in home economics class, you had several basic recipes – chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and snickerdoodles.
One thing I like more than making cookies is making cookie bars because you throw it in one pan rather than spend extra time scooping. You don’t have to worry about cookies spreading into each other (or not spreading at all).
Then when you’re finished, you can frost one pan in a few minutes rather than frost several dozen cookies at a time.
I chose to pair my snickerdoodle cookies bars with an apple butter frosting because it’s fall and apple butter pairs really well with cinnamon and sugar.
Oh and you don’t have to go out and buy cream of tartar like most snickerdoodle recipes called for. In fact, I bet you have all the ingredients in your pantry right now.
I hate when a recipe calls for an item that you know you will rarely use again, such as cream of tartar.
Case in point – when I was reorganizing my spices in my pantry a few months ago, I found my tiny jar of cream of tartar, ready to be used for snickerdoodle cookies.
Except it expired in 2009. It’s a shame since it only had a few (tiny) scoops of product missing. Practically a whole jar thrown out.
When I went to buy a new jar at the store, it was $3-$4! I couldn’t justify spending that much on a tiny jar of something I was barely going to use.
Is it possible to substitute cream of tartar?
Yes it is. You can substitute baking powder.
That makes me wonder why we even buy cream of tartar, so I did a little research.
Cream of tartar is a fine white powder that forms inside wine barrels during winemaking because of a naturally occurring substance in grapes called tartaric acid (hence the name).
It helps control the acid level of fermentation and acts as a preservative for wine.
Bakers use cream of tartar to help stabilize egg whites and to help prevent sugar syrups and candies from crystallizing.
So why do cookie recipes even call for it? Cream of tartar is used as an acid to activate the baking soda often paired with it.
You can substitute baking powder (1 teaspoon = 1/3 teaspoon baking soda + 2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar) because most baking powders tend to contain cream of tartar already.
I can’t promise this substitution will work with every recipe, but it works for these snickerdoodle bars.
For more apple butter recipes, check out my guide on what to do with apple butter.
Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Apple Butter Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup apple butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes (the sugar should dissolve and not be gritty). Beat in the egg until smooth then beat in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture (do not overmix).
- Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and the edges pull away. Cool completely.
For the frosting:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy. Beat in the apple butter and vanilla until smooth. Spread on top of cooled bars.
Source: Recipe adapted from Land O’ Lakes 5th Annual Holiday Cookies book. Cream of tartar info from about.com
If you liked these Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars with Apple Butter Frosting, you may also like these recipes:
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This frosting sounds incredible! I too learned to make Snickerdoodles in home ec class in high school.
I think we may have all did! Thanks Heather
Look at you, going all Alton Brown with your science of baking info! How awesome is that?! Now we need to find an appropriate substitute for overpriced jars of mace and Chinese Five Spice ;)
Who uses mace anymore anyway? :P Thanks Becca!
Ooo I recently did pumpkin with snickerdoodle, but now I should try apple butter!
Oh sounds like I need to do pumpkin. I’ll do that while you do apple butter ;)
Nice recipes. Thank you. Have a great weekend.
I love this- I just recently adapted a snickerdoodle recipe, and I had to change up for the cream of tartar a well! I’m not crazy about buying a random pantry ingredient I’ll never use.
these look so crazy good, and I love that you made them into bars. Easy cookies are the best :)
Makes me wonder why do snickerdoodles even need cream of tartar. They are perfectly fine without, no? Thanks Ruthy!
Thanks for learnin’ me some new stuff about cream of tartar. I also have the ‘for snickerdoodles only’ jar in the spice drawer. Thank goodness they come in small sizes–though I’m thinking that would be an excellent idea for buying in bulk like Tammy over at Agrigirl’s blog discussed recently, as you could get only the tiny amount you needed, not a whole jar.
No matter, because I always have baking powder and these bars look delicious.
Smart idea with the bulk store! Thanks Kirsten.
I also love baking bars! These look fantastic and the frosting sounds so unique! I use a lot of cream of tartar because I love making Italian meringue, so I always have multiple jars in my pantry.
I’ve never made Italian meringue before, but I can see how cream of tartar is needed. Thanks Laura!
These bars look so good! I might have a problem and eat the entire pan. Myself.
Me too ;) Thanks Vicki!
I love these!
I’ve been seeing a lot of snickerdoodle recipes lately but I think yours beats the others! What a great way to incorporate the classic snickerdoodle into a cookie bar. It just sings fall.
Aw thanks Christine :)
How did I never know this?! This is like the happiest thing I have learned all week! Also I love frosting and cookie bars!!!
This is a divine looking dessert!! I want to eat like 5 pieces! ;)
I made these cookie bars exactly according to the recipe, but the bars themselves came out tasting old and stale the day I made them. I only baked them for 23 minutes, so I cannot figure out what went wrong! The texture is like cornbread! The frosting is amazing, but there must be something missing in the recipe. Any thoughts?
Sorry to hear you had trouble with this. Yes, the ingredients are correct. I’m guessing it may be an error in technique:
1. Ensure everything is measured correctly (teaspoon vs. tablespoon) and that you properly measure the flour by spooning in flour and not scooping the cup.
2. Ensure you beat the butter and sugar long enough that the sugar is dissolved into the butter (it shouldn’t be gritty).
3. Do not overbeat the mixture after you add the flour mixture.
4. If your flour isn’t presifted, you may need to sift it before using.
I will make notes in the recipe to ensure others don’t have this same issue. Thanks.
Thanks for the tutorial on cream of tartar, girl. I have a tin that i rarely use. I don’t want to have to hunt down recipes that use it just so that it doesn’t go to waste! I actually never ate a snickerdoodle until 2008 (they made such a big impression that I can remember the date, lol). A coworker brought in some Christmas baking by her mom and there were snickerdoodles in there. I LOVED them at first bite. Now I need to get onto this apple butter train. I’ve never had it and Musselman’s apple butter is being featured on all the blogs lately. Must.hunt.it.down.
I’m obsessed!!! How tasty and seasonal do these sound?
How far ahead can you make these bars? How would you store them?
Since they are bars, you can usually make them a few days ahead of time. Store them in an airtight container.