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!

Custom Muffins with Glazes

custom muffins with custom glazes
custom muffins with custom glazes

I ran across a recipe for a customizable muffin and it intrigued me. The concept was to have a “base” that you can vary any way you like. Berries could be stirred in, or nuts, or chocolate chips, or candies … you get the idea. It seemed like a fantastic way to make multiple flavors at one time without baking dozens of muffins at once. You could make a variety pack for yourself, or have several flavors to give as treats. I wanted to so something special for my neighbors, so I decided that four different muffins might put smiles on their faces. And, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I opted to make a different flavored glaze for each muffin flavor.

To veganize the recipe, I curdled cashew milk as a stand-in for buttermilk. In place of regular unsalted butter, I used Flora unsalted plant butter. Lastly, aquafaba was my egg substitute. To account for high altitude, I reduced the amount of baking powder and the oven temperature. Despite all of these changes to the original recipe, the muffins turned out tall and beautiful. My neighbors said they were great, and I enjoyed the diversity of the ones I saved for me.

Custom Muffins with Glazes adapted from Ultimate Muffins

4 TBS unsalted vegan butter (like Flora plant butter)
1 cup + 1 tsp non-dairy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
Custom mix-ins:
blueberries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 per muffin
chopped berries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 pieces per muffin
chocolate chips, regular or minis; 2-3 TBS
Custom glazes:
3 TBS powdered sugar, sifted
up to 1 tsp non-dairy milk
flavored extracts (such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lemon, orange)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and spray the cups with nonstick cooking spray. Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. Place non-dairy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugars and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, curdled milk, aquafaba, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Remove 1/2 cup of batter to a bowl. Scoop the remaining batter into separate bowls, one per flavor. (I made 4 flavors, 3 muffins each, so I scooped 1/4 of the remaining batter each into its own bowl). Add the mix-ins, one flavor per bowl, and fold in gently. (I added 18 small blueberries to one bowl of batter, 12 bits of chopped cherries to one bowl, 15 bits of chopped raspberries to one bowl, and 2 TBS of mini chocolate chips to the last bowl).

Divide the 1/2 cup of reserved plain batter between the 12 muffin cups, as a layer on the bottom of the muffin cup. (This keeps the mix-ins from sinking to the bottom of the muffin). Next, fill the muffin cups 2/3 full with the flavored batters, one flavor per muffin cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Move the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled slightly, tip the muffins out onto the rack to finish cooling.

baked custom muffins, 4 flavors
baked custom muffins, 4 flavors

While the muffins cool, make the glazes. Add the powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp nondairy milk to a bowl. Add more milk, one drop at a time, as needed to dissolve the powdered sugar without making it too runny. Divide the glaze base into individual bowls to make separate flavors. I added vanilla and coffee extracts to put on my chocolate chip muffins, vanilla extract only for the raspberry muffins, chocolate and vanilla extracts for the cherry muffins, and lemon extract with a sprinkle of lemon zest for the blueberry muffins). When the muffins have cooled, drizzle the glazes over the tops of the muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!