Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars

Paula's Spicy Apple Bars - Feature 3

I often find myself paging through Cookies by Bess, reading recipes, and deciding which cookie I’m going to make next. As I page through all the recipes, I always stop on those named for all the women in the Hoffman family. Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars is named for my cousin Paula. She is the oldest of all the women cousins in our family and was once a baker!

Paula is the granddaughter Bess made over 3000 cookies for.  Hand delivering them from Los Angeles to Madison, WI.  The cookies were for Paula’s wedding.  Legend has it, not one cookie was broken in the travels cross country!

I’m excited to make all the name-sake cookies in Cookies by Bess…Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars will be my second, Janet’s Brown Sugar Drops was my first. 😊   Some of the name-sake recipes look challenging, so I’ll have to plan accordingly as I work my way through the family.

Paula’s Spicy Apple Cookies was a pretty easy bar cookie recipe. I am rating it 1-star. The recipe is quick to mix together and bake. It’s even easy to remove from the baking pan, assuming you grease it properly!  I did notice one significant challenge in the baking process, but you see below, I found an easy solution!

The recipe has a good amount of ingredients, including all the spices and chopped apples. I have to admit that I was surprised the recipe doesn’t call for nuts. I’m sure you could add them if you want to add a little crunch.

The recipe doesn’t specify the type of apple to use. Macintosh apples are my favorite, but I decided on Granny Smith as they are the best for baking.

I was also surprised the recipe calls for small amounts of each ingredients. As I read through the recipe, I wondered about the size of baking pan it mentions.

Once all the ingredients were mixed together, I was again concerned about the amount of dough and the size pan called for in the recipe. But, to be true to the recipe, I greased up my 13x9x2 inch pan and poured the dough/batter into the pan.

As I expected, I had a hard time getting the batter to spread to the edges of the pan. There was such a thin layer of batter, I could almost see the bottom of the pan.

I continued with the recipe and sprinkled the sugar and cinnamon on top of the cookie dough and stuck the pan in the oven.

I was ready to bake the bars…and curious to see what happened next!

The recipe has both baking powder and baking soda included, so I expected the dough to rise while baking. I was hoping it would rise quite a bit to fill the baking pan!

The batter did rise a bit while baking. I baked the bars for 25 minutes. The areas of the baking pan with the thinnest layer of cookie batter didn’t rise and ended up baking until brown and crusty. The other areas of the bars raised to about ½ inch.

The cinnamon and sugar formed a nice crispy topping that gave the bars a nice texture and sweet taste.

The final bar cookies were a little fragile, but looked and tasted great! The spicy flavors coupled with the sweet cinnamon sugar topping work perfectly. The cookie is nice and moist, and the apples bring everything together to make Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars a winner bar cookie!

Can’t you just see the flavors and texture of these bar cookies?

As I was cleaning up my kitchen after baking, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 13x9x2 inch baking pan called for in the recipe. I kept wondering how Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars would turn out if I used a smaller pan.

So, I stopped cleaning up and decided to make another batch. I just happen to have an extra apple 😊

I thought about using a class baking pan, but ended up using my stainless 8×8 inch baking pan. This time I baked the bars for about 35 minutes…5 minutes extra…just to make sure the center of the dough baked through fully.

Using the toothpick test helped me determine if the cookies were done.

The bars baked up perfectly! Same crispy cinnamon sugar topping, same moist cookie, and same great flavor!

In the end, I suggest using the smaller baking pan. Who knows, maybe it was a typo in the recipe…either way, you can’t go wrong with Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars! A perfect bar cookie for coffee or tea with friends, an after school treat for the kids, or for no reason at all!

Cheers to you Cousin Paula!  If you haven’t tried your name-sake cookie, I highly recommend you do now!  I know you will love the spicy and sweet flavors!






Paula’s Spicy Apple Bars


1/3 cup butter

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup flour

1/8 tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ginger

1 cup finely chopped peeled apple


Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Blend in sifted ingredients and mix well. Stir in peeled and chopped apple. Spread into greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Sprinkle top with mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cook and cut into bars.

Recipe Yield

Makes about 2 to 3 dozen bar cookies

Cookie Category:  Bars

Cookie Difficulty Rating

difficulty 1 out of 4

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