Apple Blueberry Streusel Pie — vegan and gluten free

apple blueberry streusel pie
apple blueberry streusel pie

If you are working your way through Veganuary and it seems difficult, don’t worry. You’re half the way there (congratulations!). If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a challenge to try vegan throughout the month of January.

Eating vegan can be tough for some, especially when it comes to dessert. Many pastries include eggs and butter and can appear impossibly hard to make at high altitude. But, today I offer you sweet encouragement.

I wanted a recipe that wasn’t too complicated, so I decided to use a pre-made pie shell. Never having baked one, it was an experiment for me. In the vein of experimentation I decided to go with a gluten-free version as well. The results were surprisingly delicious.

The dessert recipe I found was vegan once I used the pre-made crust. No changes were needed for high altitude, but I did have to adjust filling quantities for the smaller ready-made shell.

After ingredient amounts were altered, I added blueberries because you can always use extra antioxidants, right? I then removed the nuts to make it very allergy-friendly. May this decadent treat get you through the rest of the month, and beyond.

Apple Blueberry Streusel Pie adapted from Apple Crumble Pie

for the pie
4 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced into 1/8” slices
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1.75 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 store bought pie shell (I used a gluten free one by Wholly Wholesome)
for the streusel topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/3 cup unsalted vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly

Add the apples, blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/4 cup flour to a large bowl. Stir carefully with a spatula to coat the fruit. Place 1.75 teaspoons cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar in small bowl. Stir to combine, then sprinkle over the fruit. Stir carefully with a spatula until the fruit is evenly coated with the spices. Set aside while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Take the pie shell out of the freezer to defrost per manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, make the streusel topping.

Put the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3/4 cup flour in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter with a spatula. Break it up into small clumps using the spatula or your fingers. When the pie shell is defrosted, pile the fruit into it. Then sprinkle the topping over the fruit.

Place the filled pie shell onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Leaving the pie in the oven, carefully place a pie crust shield over the crust. Close the oven door and reduce the heat to 375F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Place the pie with the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 3 hours. Cover leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Duet of Vegan Holiday Cookies

chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies
chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies

Ah, holiday cookie baking. The sweet scents that emanate from the kitchen this time of year are drool-worthy. They make you want to bake every cookie recipe you see.

Recently I got inspired by a friend who was madly baking like some Keebler elf, so I joined in the frenzy. The flour was flying and baking sheets were in heavy rotation. I thought that others would also begin their boisterous baking, so I have not one recipe for you, but two.

I wanted a classic Thumbprint cookie to start, and I found a recipe that was healthy and tasty. But, variety is crucial in a cookie tray, along with a bit of chocolate, so I have a chocolate cookie kissed with peppermint and slathered in vanilla frosting. The Thumbprints were already vegan; I merely changed the cooking technique to allow the dough to rest and absorb fluids to combat dryness found at altitude. The chocolate cookie was veganized by using non-dairy milk, and adjusted for altitude with the addition of liquid. I hope you are as excited for holiday cookies as I am!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Frosting inspired by NutraMilk

for the cookies
3 Tablespoons almond butter
1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon applesauce
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons almond flour (not almond meal)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
for the frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter
1.75 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup almond milk

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the almond butter, milk, applesauce, maple syrup, and peppermint extract in a bowl and whisk together. Combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and stir until a dough forms. Roll the dough into 12 balls and place each ball on a baking tray, flattening each slightly. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are firm.

Remove the tray from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from the tray and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Make the frosting: add the ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Start beating slowly and work up to medium speed. Beat until the frosting is light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When the cookies are fully cooled, add the frosting and decorative sugar.

Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Jam adapted from Vegan Jam Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fruit jam, seedless

Place the oats, flour, and walnuts in a bowl and stir to combine. Whisk together the oil, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine everything. Place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the liquids. It will become sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets. Use the back of the scoop to create an indent on top of each ball. Fill the indents with jam. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Remove the trays from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cookies from the trays and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 32 – 34 cookies.

Until next time, happy Holiday baking!

Cranberry Orange Almond Cookies

cranberry orange almond cookies
cranberry orange almond cookies

As I was adding cranberries and cinnamon to my fall oatmeal this morning, my thoughts went to holiday cookies. These two ingredients would make good additions to a cookie, along with orange to round out the flavor profile. The downside was that I was feeling lazy, but finding an easy recipe would make it a simpler task.

My search pulled up a quick cookie recipe, one that was already vegan. It had no leaveners so high altitude would not be an issue. The changes I made began with giving a nod to the holidays. My goal was to include my taste trio of cranberries, orange, and cinnamon. Upon adding those, I adjusted for the extra moisture and bulk. The result was a burst of seasonal goodness, wrapped up as a refined-sugar-free and gluten-free treat.

Cranberry Orange Almond Cookies adapted from The Easiest Almond Flour Cookies

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon organic orange zest
2.5 tablespoons organic orange juice
1.5 cups + 1 tablespoon fine almond flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place chopped dried cranberries in a small bowl with the orange zest. Cover with orange juice and stir to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes so the juice can soak into the cranberries.

Place the almond flour, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk. Add maple syrup and vanilla and stir. Add the cranberries and any juice from the small bowl, and stir to combine well. The dough will be shaggy but slightly sticky. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes to absorb fluid.

chopped cranberries for holiday cookies
chopped cranberries for holiday cookies

Scoop up 16 walnut-sized balls of dough and place on the baking sheet. The cookies will not really spread, so they can be placed fairly close together. Flatten the balls of dough using the bottom of a glass keeping a small piece of parchment paper in between to prevent sticking. Cookies should be about ¼-inch thick and 2 ½-inches in diameter.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the edges and bottoms of cookies are golden brown. Place the baking sheet with cookies on a wire rack until the cookies cool completely. Store fully cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Mini Allergy-Friendly Spider Bites

mini allergy friendly spider bites
mini allergy friendly spider bites

Are you looking for a Halloween Treat? I have an easy one that is also allergy friendly. It contains only three ingredients, and I modified it so it doesn’t contain common allergens. Now you have a snack to share with all of your favorite ghoul friends (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The original recipe I found was from Food Network, but I made a few tweaks. I prepared it on the stove top and used a double boiler so the chocolate doesn’t scorch. Then I used ingredients that are generally safe for those with common food allergies. No changes were needed for baking at high altitude, but I made the goodies bite-sized so kids of all ages can enjoy them. Happy Halloween!

Mini Allergy-Friendly Spider Bites adapted from Spider Bites

12 ounces semisweet morsels or chunks (I used Enjoy Life Foods brand)
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (I used Once Again brand)
6 cups gluten-free pretzel sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces (I used Fit Joy brand)

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet or two and set aside.

Put a few inches of water in a medium pot and put it on the stove to boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and place a heat-safe bowl on top. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl to melt; be sure that steam doesn’t enter from the pot below or the chocolate will seize. Stir the chips occasionally. When the chips are melted and smooth, turn the heat off and stir in the sunflower seed butter. Remove the bowl from over the pot and stir in the pretzel pieces.

spider bites allergy friendly ingredients
spider bites allergy friendly ingredients

When the pretzels are thoroughly coated with chocolate, pick up a few and place them on the parchment lined sheet. Next, take 8 pretzel pieces from the bowl and arrange them to form spider legs. Take a small amount of chocolate from the bowl and blob it over the top to form the body, and to cement everything together. Repeat with the remaining pretzels. You can get creative and anatomically correct, or you can drop them on the sheet to create haystacks instead of spiders. They won’t be Halloween themed, but they will still taste good. Heck, they taste good right out of the bowl.

Place the sheet of spiders in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Remove gently from the parchment paper and remove any drips that don’t look like spider.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

peanut butter chocolate cookie sandwich
peanut butter chocolate cookie sandwich

Gluten-free baking is scientific, with lots of math involved. When attempted at high altitude it also involves laborious recipe testing. Okay, that kinda sounds fun to me but it is not something I usually attempt. I start with tried-and-true gluten-free recipes and tweak then just a bit to compensate for altitude. Not today. Today I threw caution to the wind and made every type of substitution possible … all at once … with fingers crossed. Luckily I was successful.

The massive changes I made were based on science, so that dialed down the luck factor. I started with a gluten-free cookie recipe from Bob’s Red Mill then used America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks as a reference for substitutions. I didn’t have all of the flours listed in the recipe so, armed with knowledge from the Test Kitchen, I made swaps based on what was in my cupboard. I added aquafaba and soy milk powder for enhanced vegan structure, as well was guar gum. Granulated sugars were used instead of liquid sweetener so the cookies wouldn’t be too mushy. The last step was to sandwich my cookies with a rich chocolate filling, because life can always be more decadent.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches loosely based on a recipe from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook

for the cookies:
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon soy milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 cup + 2 TBS creamy peanut butter, salted but unsweetened
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup vegan light brown sugar
1/2 cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil
1 tablespoon aquafaba
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
for the chocolate filling:
1/3 cup vegan margarine
3 cups vegan powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

For the cookies: Whisk the flours, starches, milk powder, baking soda, salt, and guar gum together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sugars, oil, aquafaba, and 3 tablespoons milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the dough bowl with plastic wrap and put aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions, and heat the oven to 350F.

When the 30 minutes rest time has passed, scoop out small balls of cookie dough, 2-3 teaspoons in size, and place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. (The dough will be moist and slightly sticky.) Flatten the dough balls with the palm of your hand.

Bake the cookies until golden brown and firm, 14-16 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking time. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for five minutes, then remove to wire racks to fully cool. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

For the filling: Place the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, cacao powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute. Keep beating, adding milk as needed, until the filling is light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag with the filling.

To assemble the cookie sandwiches: Place half of the cookies upside down on a tray. Pipe filling onto the center of each cookie. Top each with a remaining cookie, pressing down gently until the filling spreads to the edges. Store assembled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks
Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks

Ah, September. It may not be autumn yet, but it’s peeking around the corner. With the glimpse at future cool weather, we rush out to enjoy the last of summer’s sun. For me this means walks along the water, strolls at local farms, and outdoor cooking. And, with a weekend of sharing meals outdoors, there will be marshmallows. At least once.

Oftentimes I use marshmallows to make s’mores (with recipes here, here, and here), but my current inspiration was Rice Krispy Treats. Searching around I discovered that you can add jam to the melted marshmallows. Who knew?! With no baking required the recipe needed no high altitude changes, just a few vegan substitutions. I used vegan butter and margarine in place of the dairy versions. I also used seedless raspberry jam, as that is my preferred jam in desserts, and added mini chocolate chips to appease my chocolate craving hubby. These tasty treats can be enjoyed outside, before or after your dinner comes off of the grill.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks adapted from Strawberry Jam Rice Krispies Treats

2.5 Tablespoons margarine or vegan butter
5 ounces vegan mini marshmallows
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 cups brown rice cereal
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Grease an 8 x 8” baking pan and set aside. Be sure to have your ingredients measured and close at hand (called “mise en place”) because things go fast once the marshmallows have melted.

Melt the margarine in a large pan on a burner set to medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until they melt. When melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the jam to the pan. Stir to combine. Add the cereal to the pan and stir to coat. Add the mini chocolate chips to the mixture and stir just to combine. (They will melt a bit, but the smears are tasty.)

Krispie Rice Snacks mise en place
Krispie Rice Snacks mise en place

Pour the cereal mixture into the greased baking pan. Smooth the top of the mixture with a spatula, pressing down firmly into the bottom and corners of the pan. Sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips over the top and press them in gently with your fingertips. Let the treats cool for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Milkshake for World Plant Milk Day Book Giveaway

milkshake for world plant day giveaway
milkshake for world plant milk day giveaway

When I started my journey of seeking milk that didn’t come from a cow, the options were very limited. It may have been rice milk and three brands of soy milk. These days you can find milk beverages made from those two bases, alongside others consisting of almonds, oats, peas, hemp seeds, coconut, cashews, macadamias, quinoa, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, bananas, hazelnuts, and flax seeds.

Plant milks are so popular now that they have their own holiday. Today is World Plant Milk Day, a celebration of plant-based dairy alternatives that is recognized internationally. People all over the globe can find a way to enjoy a milky beverage that is better for their health, the environment, and the animals.

The website behind this celebratory day explains that a “dairy-free lifestyle has the power to make you feel fantastic, now and in the long-term future. You may experience increased energy, less bloating, improved digestion, clearer skin, reduced asthma symptoms, less inflammation, and other lasting health benefits when you make the switch away from dairy.”

In honor of this day, and to offer you a way to easily get involved, I made a plant-based milkshake. The recipe below is from Alisa Fleming’s book “Eat Dairy Free.” If you like Alisa’s recipe and want more, you’re in luck! I’m giving away one copy of her book which includes recipes for meals, snacks, and sweets. To enter the drawing, comment on this post or my posts with the above book picture on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. **

Strawberry Cheeseshake

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon melted coconut, grapeseed, or rice bran oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cut frozen strawberries
1/2 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla dairy-free beverage
1 tablespoon agave nectar or sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham cracker crumbs (gluten free, if needed) for garnish (optional) (note: I used cacao nibs)
2 fresh strawberries, for garnish (optional)

Put the cashews in your spice grinder or food processor and whiz until powdered, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Put the cashew powder, water, lemon juice, oil, and salt in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer the cashew mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 hours or more, to allow the flavors to mingle and the consistency to thicken.

Put the chilled cashew mixture, frozen strawberries, milk beverage, sweetener, and vanilla in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour the shake into 2 glasses and garnish each.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

** Contest ends 8/27/21 at 11:00 AM PST. Open to US residents only. Void where prohibited. One winner will be chosen at random and announced in the comments.

Ice Cream Sunday

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust
Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust

It’s so hot right now and I crave something deliciously satisfying to tickle my tastebuds. It’s Sunday and I need ice cream. And not just any run-of-the-mill ice cream, but a creamy delight with a chocolate crust. Luckily, I have a can of Twrl Hojicha Milk Tea that I’ve been wanting to use to make ice cream. The roasted green tea flavor will shine when complemented by a swirl of fruit jam and an earthy tasting cocoa crust.

I cobbled together two recipes to make my creation. The crust recipe was chosen for the earthy lucuma powder in it, although I reduced the amount so I could add cocoa powder in its place. If you don’t have lucuma, you could try another deep flavored dry sweetener, such as coconut sugar. The ice cream filling was altered to use the tea in place of water, with a little less sweetener so the green tea aroma could come through. The last feature of this dish was the apricot jam I swirled throughout the ice cream. Don’t leave it out — it’s a game changer for bringing the tastes together.

Thanks goes to the folks at Twrl Tea for providing the tea for my creative testing.

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust adapted from Rouxbe Culinary School and VeganRicha

for the crust
3/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup lucuma powder
2.5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
for the ice cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours then drained
7.5 ounce can Twrl Hojicha Roasted Green Milk Tea
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons vegan sugar
3 Tablespoons refined coconut oil, in solid form
for the swirl
4 Tablespoons whole fruit apricot jam

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides. Set aside.

Place the almond flour, lucuma and cocoa powders, maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine into a fine crumble that just holds together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer this crust mixture to the lined loaf pan. Press it down firmly with your fingers, or the bottom of a glass, to create an even layer. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the ice cream.

Wipe out the food processor bowl, then add the cashews, Twrl tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, sugar, and coconut oil the bowl. (Note: if your food processor can’t handle this much liquid, then place the ingredients in a blender). Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl down as needed. The mixture may look lumpy at first; keep going until it is creamy.

ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea
ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea

Take the pan from the freezer. Pour the ice cream over the crust and smooth it out. Return the pan to the freezer for 15 minutes for the ice cream to harden slightly. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer. Drizzle apricot jam over the ice cream and swirl it in with a toothpick. Return the pan to the freezer for two hours. When the ice cream is firm, take the pan from the freezer. Remove the ice cream by grabbing the parchment overhang to lift the loaf out. Place the loaf on a cutting board and cut slices with a warm knife.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting
strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting

A friend’s birthday is coming up and I want to make a dessert that’s easy to share at a celebration. Cupcakes come to mind, but I need to bake some that are a little extra special. Fruity flavors are enjoyable in the summer, with strawberries and lemon reminding one of a cool drink, so they are perfect in my cupcakes. All these cupcakes need are a sumptuous fruity frosting to put them in the realm of ‘special enough for a birthday.’

I found a vegan cupcake recipe that included my combo of lemon and strawberry. To prepare at high altitude, I added extra liquid and flour while reducing the baking powder. I also used dry sweetener instead of wet to help keep the cupcakes light and fluffy. Next I switched to a deeply fruit-flavored frosting to embrace summery tastes. Tasters raved about the cupcakes noting how airy they were, and the mix of fruity flavors were a welcome surprise.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting adapted from One Green Planet and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
generous 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
6 tablespoons vegan butter, cold
2 tablespoons vegan shortening
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons soy milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 325 F and line muffin tins with 14 paper cups. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl or container. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Place pureed strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add curdled milk and stir ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is smooth. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking time. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out with a few tiny crumbs. Let the tins sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to fully cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, begin the frosting by beating the butter and shortening together in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the fruit spread and beat until smooth. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars

gluten free blueberry and cherry bars
gluten free blueberry and cherry bars

On a hot summer day, it’s nice to have an easy dessert recipe. Turning on the oven can take all of your energy, so slaving over a complicated treat is not welcome. Sometimes scooping out individual servings or cookies can be just too tiring. That’s when bar cookies come to the rescue. Mix, pour into a pan, bake, cool, and cut.

The bar cookie recipe I found was fruity (yay!), and I decided to make it gluten-free to share with friends (yay, again!). It was already vegan, and high altitude wasn’t much of an issue, so I subbed gluten-free ingredients, mixed up the fruit choices, and added a decadent icing. Now I had a dessert that was not only easy, but bursting with flavor and allergy-friendly goodness.

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars adapted from Blueberry Crumble Bars

1.75 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup organic sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, room temperature and cut into slices
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons nondairy milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen cherries, chopped into quarters
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup organic confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, including an overhang of a few inches on two opposite sides.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to combine. In a medium bowl, combine the margarine, oil, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed but with a few small clumps.

dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars
dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars

In a small bowl, gently combine the blueberries, cherries, 1/4 cup sugar, potato starch, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Using your hands, press three-quarters of the dough mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the coated fruit evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the fruit layer. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is crisp and bubbly. Place pan on a wire rack to let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make an icing by whisking the confectioner’s sugar over a bowl. Stir in the 4 teaspoons milk until well combined. When the bars have cooled, drizzle the icing over the bars. Then use the parchment paper overhand to lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into squares, and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!