*no, of course it’s not dairy butter, silly! The “butter” comes from “butterscotch,” which is what these babies taste like to me. I could have called them “berryscotch,” but that sounded too much like an alcoholic beverage. 😉
Two posts in one day–am I mad?? No, just behind on my posting (as usual)–and I really, really wanted to tell you about A Gluten Free Holiday VI earlier today. So think of this as “Part II” of that post. 😉
The holiday season is definitely upon us. Twitter is all a-twitter with messages about holiday shopping, tree decorating, and cookie baking. Blogs highlight amazing holiday meals and gift lists. The snow is making its inexorable journey to earth (wah, boo hoo), the temperatures are plummeting (sob, boo hoo HOO), and the general aura of holiday madness has permeated kitchens, living rooms, department stores and online retailers alike.
And what do I want more than anything at this time of year?
Cuddle around the fire with the HH? (sure).
Help out those in need? (absolutely).
Take time to reflect and plan for the upcoming new year? (if I can find the time).
“Yes,” to all of the above. . . but that’s only a part of the answer. More than anything at this time of year, this gal’s mind turns to. . . . food!
When I think, “holiday,” my mind is flooded with childhood memories of the holiday season in our home. Mom clad in her pink polka-dot apron, cheerfully standing by the stove stirring mysterious vats of bubbling sauces or soups. And later in the day, still stirring. And then later, some mixing and some rolling. . . some cookie-cutting and some baking–not so cheerful now–and more stirring. . . . on her feet all day, wiping the sweat from her brow as she endures the rising steam and her ankles begin to swell to the size of wine barrels. . . .not having time to actually join us at the table as she weaves in and out of the kitchen, proffering platters of holiday fare to the rest of us at the table.
Oh, and the distinctive aroma of chicken grease and charred edges of kugel wafting across the room, Mom racing to get it out of the oven before it is completely ruined. A chaotic race to set the table, waiting to the last minute so there’s no time to iron the linen tablecloth or check the glasses for waterstains before the rest of the family arrives. My sisters and I arguing over who gets the last pickle, or who geos the biggest piece of chicken, or who gets the end piece of the casserole; and really arguing over who gets the most icing on their slice of cake. Eating too much, drinking too much eggnog, gorging on the six plates of cookies, cake, and chocolate, pigging out on all the foods that we’re never allowed to eat any other time of year–then plopping onto my parents’ bed to watch TV (theirs was the only room with a television), stomachs gurgling and heaving as we suppress the urge to upchuck it all and relieve the agony that is the holiday meal. . . .
Ah, yes, the holidays. Nothing like those childhood memories!
Obviously, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating since then. Miraculously, and even with our dysfunctional holidays, I never lost my love of throwing a big holiday dinner–including those desserts at the end of it. Of course, these days my confections are vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and (mostly) organic and whole-foods based. But you know what? I think that I cherish them even more precisely for that reason.
These bars are a cross between a cake and a blondie–hence the name “cake bars.” They’re light and tender, and the flavor is reminiscent of butterscotch. I’ve now made them on three separate occasions: first, with cranberries, then raspberries, and this time, blueberries. All were terrific. “This tastes like a regular cake,” the HH remarked–his highest form of compliment. 😉
If you’re looking for a dessert that’s a bit less indulgent than all the other offerings over the holidays yet still satisfying to your sweet tooth, this is the recipe for you. The bars make a great, light finish to an otherwise over-the-top holiday meal. Oh, and they just happen to be vegan, gluten free and low glycemic.
These are my contribution to A Gluten Free Holiday VI: Desserts, hosted this week by Amy–the brains behind the whole event! Amy made a decadent Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake. To see her recipe and to enter to win one of SIX autographed cookbooks, check out Amy’s post.
If you’d like to check out all of the “A Gluten Free Holiday” posts, here’s the lineup:
- I kicked things off with How to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays (and a recipe for coconut-raspberry truffles);
- Shirley of Gluten Free Easily offered Thanksgiving Holiday Favorites;
- Alta of Tasty Eats at Home provided Gifts of Good Taste;
- Diane of The Whole Gang gave us Side Dish Favorites;
- Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl presented Breakfast and Brunch Dishes; and
- Amy concludes the event with Desserts!
Butter-Berry Cake Bars
suitable for ACD Phase III and beyond
Use whichever berries you have on hand, or throw in some chocolate chips if you’re okay with those. I like cranberries for a totally festive option, but any combination of blueberry, cranberry, raspberry or strawberry would work. The ingredient list may look long, but this comes together very easily–it’s all blended in the food processor. Have no fear!–you won’t be sorry!
1 pear, cored (no need to peel)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut or palm sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) natural smooth hazelnut butter (this contributes to the butterscotch flavor, but you could use cashew, almond, or sunflower instead)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) sesame tahini
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla rice, soy or almond milk
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) rum or butterscotch extract, optional
15-20 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/3 cup (80 ml) light buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) lucuma powder (or use more buckwheat flour, or carob)
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or a combination
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8-1/2 inch (22 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Purée the pear in the food processor until smooth; you should have about 1/2 cup (120 ml) purée. Add the coconut sugar, hazelnut butter, tahini, oil, flaxseeds, milk, lemon juice, vanilla, rum extract and stevia and blend until smooth. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, lucuma powder (if using), xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the liquid mixture from the processor and stir to blend well (it will be very thick–too thick to pour). Gently mix in the berries as best as you can.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan (it may take a bit of work) and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until puffed on top, golden brown and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 20-25 bars. May be frozen.
from Diet, Dessert and Dogs (https://www.rickiheller.com)
Last Year at this Time: Gastronomic Gift: Hazelnut Melting Moments, Times Two (GF option, ACD Phase III and beyond)
Two Years Ago: Gastronomic Gifts IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers (not GF, not ACD)
Three Years Ago: Silence, Snow and Sweets
© 2010 Ricki Heller
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Pure2raw Twins says
love how you use lucuma and tahini in the bars… so many great ingredients in these bars 😉 love it!!!
Lucuma does add that butterscotch-esque flavor!
Those look lovely Ricki. Do you think just after eight in the morning is too early for one?
Well, it wasn’t for me. 😉
Alicia (Vegan Epicurean) says
I loved your childhood memories of the holidays. It reminded me so much of mine. Thank you so much for sharing them. 🙂
Alicia, my condolences! I think we’ve all gotten much better since then. . . not so chaotic any more. 😉
lucuma? you always find some ingredient I have never heard of! and another interesting recipe! my favourite memories of my mum in the kitchen during the holidays are when I was helping her! I love your description that makes it sounds like a graceful dance. It is cold here when it should be hot but no snow for us – I wish for a little of your snow (but with all the mobility about that city that we have – is that possible?)
Peanut butter and chocolate says
The bars look amazing, and the recipe sounds not too difficult.
I’m going to try it ASAP, maybe even cut the cake into small squares instead of bars, and hand them our around the office.
Did you consider covering them with chocolate?
Itai Matos (TFIM)
You make the BEST desserts!!! Mmmmm just the picture makes me drool all over my key board.
Oh the memories…so many of them involving food around the holidays, non?
These sound amazing – I wish I could get all the stuff to make them…for now I’ll just do with drooling like Terry!
these look so yummy! I’m a huge fan of anything with hazel butter.
hmm, i think i should’ve made more treats like these 🙂 ah well, i’ll try to plan better next year!!
Waw, Ricki!! These bars look amazing & mighty tasty too!