The Best Gluten Free Cookies and Bars Part One
Cranberry Bliss Bars, Millionaire Bars, Seven Layer Bars, Oh My! Whether you are gluten intolerant or not, these cookie bars are hard to resist, but if you're like me and you know that eating gluten is going to make those delicious treats not feel so great in your bod later then I've got the answer for you! In this two part series, I will first feature gluten free cookie and cookie bar classics including my recipe for Seven Layer Bars then next week we will have part two with the more fancy-schmancy cookies you will want to take to the Cookie Exchange. Check these out: Cranberry Bliss Bars (Just like the gingery, cream-cheese topped bars at Starbucks) and Millionaire Bars (featuring an egg-free cookie dough layer, as well as caramel and chocolate ganache on top of shortbread)! Each week I will augment my own recipes with recipe links from other favorite bloggers. This Seven Layer Bar - AKA Magic Cookie Bars or Hello Dolly Bars - recipe came about several years ago when an intense craving for the "Hello Dolly Bars" my grandmother used to always make would not leave me alone. (Anyone know why these bars were called that??) I was going to make a different bar recipe that I had found but it was a lot of work compared to whipping up a simple buttery crust then layering all the typical cohorts of holiday baking. When I was thinking through how to make the crust for the Seven Layer Bars without graham crackers, I remembered how easy the crust for lemon bars was and that it was very tender without any taste of the gluten free flours...just pure buttery goodness. So that was the start, then of course it's just layering all the other ingredients before topping off with sweetened condensed milk which I had in my pantry for some stange reason. If you are dairy intolerant, use Earth Balance for butter in shortbread and make your own SCM by using coconut milk and sugar. The result was an amazing new twist on this timeless bar that maybe even surpasses the glutenized version. Let me know what you think.
Here are a few other links to get you started then I will post the two other bar recipes next week:
Good Old Chocolate Chip Cookies - I haven't found a recipe better than these and you can make them either as regular cookies, big pizza format or in a bar pan. No matter what form they've taken, the gluten intolerant people always have to get there first because everyone else polishes them off.
Lemon Bars - A perennial favorite and the perfect season to make them when lemons are readily coming off of trees in California. Did you know you can sub limes to make Key lime Bars?
Blondies - With or without chocolate chips, these are delicious! To amp up the flavor, make an espresso glaze with organic powdered sugar and super-strong coffee (preferably a freshly pulled shot!)
Gluten Free Sugar Cookies - I've never been a sugar cookie fan, but my kids (even as teenagers) still love to eat and decorate them. Most icings do not have gluten, but check packages. If you want to make your own, you will need to buy meringue powder (in baking aisle) to make Royal Icing. Betty Crocker brand sprinkles are considered gluten-free.
Now that you have those ideas, it's time to make those Seven Layer Bars:
- Shortbread Crust
- 1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend*
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 T sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli because there is no hyd. oil)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8" (or 9") square pan with parchment paper.
- Mix crust ingredients together until crumbly. Press into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes until brown around the edges.
- Layer the remaining ingredients in order covering evenly with the milk.
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes until browned on top. Let cool for 15 minutes then score the top and using parchment paper to lift, remove the bars from the pan to a cutting board. Cool completely then finish cutting into squares.