Gluten-Free Strawberry & Pineapple Crumble Bars

The more I do this, the more I notice that some of my better recipes are born out of complete chance. Take these bars for example, which were created out of a lack of almond flour. I set out to develop these bars as a gluten-free dessert option, which I have gotten a lot of requests for after releasing my Sour Cream & Cheddar Biscuits and Double Chocolate Scones, both of which are very much not gluten free.

I wanted to incorporate a mix of almond flour and a gluten free one-to-one baking blend, but realized halfway through adding ingredients to my bowl that I only had half the amount of almond flour I had planned on using. Insert: walnuts and a high-speed blender. I just eyeballed the amount of walnut halves I thought would make roughly ½ cup and pulsed them until they resembled coarse flour.

In retrospect, I think any nut flour would work in this recipe, with the exception of coconut flour. Coconut flour is a whole different beast, absorbs liquid at insane rates, and simply won’t work in this recipe. Other than that, feel free to get creative with your nuts in this crust. Macadamia, walnut, almond, maybe even pecan would all probably taste delicious and offer similar effects when combined with the gluten-free flour blend.

As far as fruit filling goes, I personally love the combination of fresh spring strawberries with the pineapple. I happened to have a ton of frozen pineapple and fresh berries that were on the verge of going bad, and the combination ended up being exactly what I was looking for. Sweet, with a hint of tropical, and a little vibrance from the freshly-squeezed lemon…. Yum! This recipe is versatile in that you can use whatever fruit you want, and it can be frozen, fresh, or a mixture of the two. Totally up to you, as long as the amounts remain the same (2.5 cups fruit, total).

In the realm of desserts, this one is pretty healthy, but definitely not shy in the flavor or satisfaction departments. I hope you enjoy this one, and don’t forget to share and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!

Ingredients

For The Crust:

½ cup almond flour

½ cup ground walnuts (see recipe notes above)

1.5 cup gluten free flour blend (use a cup-for-cup option)

⅓ cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp almond extract

11 TBSP butter, cold

½ tsp cinnamon

For The Filling:

1.5 cups strawberries, crushed or cut into smaller pieces

1 cup pineapple, crushed or cut into smaller pieces

¼ cup coconut sugar

4 TBSP fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon)

1 TBSP gluten free flour blend 

Instructions

  1. Cube cold butter into ½ in cubes.
  2. Combine almond flour, ground walnuts, gluten free flour blend, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. 
  3. Using your fingers, work butter into the flour mixture until it is broken down and incorporated. The dough will look coarse and crumby. 
  4. Add eggs and fold to combine, creating a moist dough. Gather dough into a ball and cover with a damp paper towel or dish towel. Chill for at least 30 minutes
  5. While the dough chills, make the filling. Combine fruit, coconut sugar, lemon juice, salt, and gluten free flour blend in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Bring filling to a boil, then simmer for another 5-7 minutes, until thickened. Transfer to a  bowl and cool in the fridge while you bake the bottom layer of crust. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide chilled dough in half. Using your fingertips, press the first ½ of the dough into the bottom of a 7×11 inch glass baking dish lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  8. When the first layer of dough is finished baking, add the cooled fruit filling on top. Crumble the remaining ½ of the dough on top of the filling in an even layer. Bake the entire pan for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. 
  9. Let bars cool completely before slicing. Serve as is or with a side of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Grain-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookie-Bread

I truly had no clue what to title this recipe when I tested it…..correction: I still have no clue. It’s kind of like a giant skillet cookie, but it also reminds me deeply of banana bread laced with creamy peanut butter and melty chocolate. Alas, it’s now called “Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookie-Bread.”

Despite the trouble in titling this dessert, I had ABSOLUTELY no trouble devouring it. It comes together in one bowl and can be baked in either your favorite cast-iron skillet or in a 9-inch round cake pan. It’s also super versatile when it comes to the add-ins. I used peanut butter, chocolate chips, and chopped toasted walnuts, but you could really use any combination of nut butters, nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate and it would taste delicious.

Per some requests to create gluten-free recipes, this cookie-bread relies on almond flour as its base. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t sub out any other flour variety in this case, as I found little success testing those. Another *important* note: this cookie-bread was tested using 2 whole eggs as well as 1 egg and 1 egg yolk. The two-egg version yielded a lighter, “bread-y” consistency (similar to banana bread), while the one-egg-one-egg-yolk version was slightly denser and gave off a gooey cookie vibe. Both were delicious, and it’s totally personal preference here. If you’re curious, the difference lies primarily in the fat-to-protein ratio, in that the two-egg version has a higher protein content from the extra egg white, while the egg yolk version has a higher fat content due to removing the egg white (egg yolks are primarily lipids). I love food science, so there’s your lesson for the day. If you wanted to test this protein/fat theory, you could sub the one egg yolk in that version for 1 TBSP of your choice fat (like butter or more coconut oil), and it would likely show similar results. But hey- I didn’t test that out, so don’t quote me.

Anyhow, make this recipe!! It’s honestly healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Or slathered with extra peanut butter, warmed in the microwave, and covered up entirely by a massive scoop of ice cream. But that’s just me.

As always, if you make this recipe, don’t forget to share it and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!

Ingredients

2 eggs (or 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, see recipe notes above)

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

⅓ cup salted creamy peanut butter (use natural for best texture)

⅓ cup coconut sugar 

2 TBSP coconut oil or ghee, melted, plus more for greasing pan

1 ¾ cups almond flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ – ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

⅓ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or round cake pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, eggs, peanut butter, melted coconut oil, and coconut sugar. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add almond flour, baking soda, and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Batter will be moist but not overly wet or runny.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts, and pour batter into skillet.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until middle is set and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie-bread comes out clean.
  6. Serve warm with a dollop of extra peanut butter and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Scones with Salted Peanut Butterscotch Glaze

It’s Sunday, and I’ve been making a concerted effort to differentiate weekdays from weekends during this pandemic. Read: extra baking. I happen to live with two men in their mid-twenties who will literally eat anything I put on the counter, so I’m fortunate enough that baked goods wind up in their mouths more frequently than my own. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying my fair share as well, though.

With that being said, I do still try to choose better options when baking, which is why you see me using coconut sugar in so many of my recipes. It’s one of the more affordable options when it comes to unrefined sugar products, and I genuinely just enjoy the taste more than conventional white sugar. The taste of coconut sugar resembles more of a brown sugar or caramel, and I love that about it. I use it daily in my coffee, and pretty much any time I need a sugar substitute. Basically, if you don’t have coconut sugar, you can *almost* always sub regular sugar in my recipes. The same rule applies to milk. In this recipe, I use vanilla almond milk for the scones and heavy cream for the butterscotch. Regular milk will work fine for the scones, unflavored almond milk will also work… use what you have. If you choose to use a plain, unflavored milk option, I would suggest adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to replace the vanilla flavor you get from the almond milk. Similarly, the heavy cream in the butterscotch can easily be substituted for full fat coconut milk. As long as the consistencies are similar, it’s a pretty safe bet as a substitute.

Now back to the scones. As far as baking goes, scones are one of the easiest IMO. You literally can use your hands for the majority of the time, which means fewer spoons to clean, and they come together in about 5 minutes. They’re also great for the anxious baker, because you don’t have to stress about perfectly shaping the dough or perfectly drizzling the glaze. Guess what? They taste exactly the same no matter what shape or glaze pattern you choose.

One non-negotiable in this recipe: cold butter. I’m talking straight-from-the-fridge cold. If it’s too warm, or worse, melted, the dough won’t turn out right. The cold butter is also what allows the scones to become flaky during the baking process.

A few notes about the butterscotch glaze: When in doubt about the consistency of the butterscotch, it’s always safe to simmer it on the stove for an extra minute or so rather than to remove it from the heat too soon. It’s better for your glaze to be overly set than not set enough. You can substitute any nut butter you have on hand in this recipe and it will be delicious. You really can’t go wrong with butter, sugar, cream, and nut butter. Feel free to store excess butterscotch in a container in the fridge for up to a week. Spoon it over ice cream, add a dollop to your coffee, or just eat it with a spoon.

I hope you enjoy this Sunday baking project as much as I do. Don’t forget to share your photos and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!

For the Scones 

2 cups whole wheat flour

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cocoa powder 

1 tsp espresso powder

½ cup coconut sugar

1 TBSP baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ cup cold salted butter (1 stick)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 

1 egg  

For the PB Butterscotch 

½ cup cold salted butter (1 stick)

1 ¼ cup coconut sugar 

¾ cup heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk to make dairy free) 

½ cup natural peanut butter (or other natural nut butter)

Instructions

  1. Make the scones. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
  3. Cube 1 stick cold butter into roughly 1/2 in pieces. Add cubed butter to flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with the flour. Using your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until it is pea-sized and evenly distributed throughout dough.
  4. Add chocolate chips to bowl and toss to combine.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture. In a small bowl, whisk the almond milk and eggs until combined, then pour into the well. Fold to combine, using a silicon spatula or your hands. The mixture will become cohesive and slightly moist throughout.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, dump out dough and fold over onto itself a few times. Using lightly floured hands, shape dough into two equal circles, each about 3/4 inch thick.
  7. Transfer dough circles to a rimmed sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut each circle into 6 equal pieces. Spread the pieces out slightly, keeping them in the circle with at least 1/2 inch between each piece. There will be 12 scones total.
  8. Top scones with a few more chocolate chips, if desired.
  9. Bake for 18-24 minutes. Total bake time really depends on your oven, so be sure to rotate the sheet tray halfway through cooking to ensure even baking and check on them frequently as the end time nears. The scones will have risen slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean when done.
  10. While the scones bake, make the butterscotch. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the other stick of butter.
  11. Once melted, add the coconut sugar and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks glossy.
  12. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add heavy cream, and continue whisking. The mixture will bubble, which is normal. Whisk constantly until the bubbling subsides and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  13. Remove butterscotch from the heat and whisk in peanut butter. Allow mixture to sit while scones bake, and whisk again before pouring over cooled scones. If the mixture tightens up too much while you wait for the scones, you may warm it slightly over low heat until it reaches a pourable texture again.
  14. Serve scones warm with whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or a glass of milk. Enjoy!