These Raspberry Crumb Bars are a pretty and petit dessert. Perfect for the sweet table at fancy gatherings - think Mother's Day Brunch and Baby Showers. Gluten-Free and Vegan.
So there was a baby shower a few weeks ago! My brother and his wife, Megs, are expecting their first baby. What is really exciting is we don't know if it's a boy or girl. This makes waiting all that much harder. Baby's due date is still a few weeks away.
The baby shower was decidedly girly and frilly. Pretty tables, flowers, pastries and cupcakes ... and as I watched my daughter bounce around the room gathering entries for door prizes, it occurred to me if little baby K is a boy, this very well may be the last chance Megs has to have a girly party. Traditional baby showers are girly and frilly. Perhaps to give the mom-to-be that last girly send-off.
Not saying there will or won't be future children, it's just that you never know what life will bring you. And life very well can bring boys. And I am certainly not saying that there is anything wrong with boys. I love every grubby inch of my guy. But early motherhood is anything but frilly. Even with girl babies. Still, in the event that a boy is in the future, there will be no need for pastries. Parties for boys are decidedly not frilly. Boy parties involve action figures and bulldozers. Dinosaurs and legos. Boy parties would not have raspberry crumb bars. Mud pies maybe. But pretty little pastries filled with raspberry preserves, not likely.
(Despite saying this, you will be hard pressed to find a boy who will not try to sneak one of these when no one is looking. With dusty, dirty little fingers too. Likely right out of the freezer.)
So without further ado, here is the recipe for these pretty, frilly baby-shower treats.
If you were to look in my pantry you might be surprised to know that gluten-free baking is really not my thing. I don't usually worry about gluten and have no real reason to be worried about it. But in my pantry, I have all the weird and unusual ingredients that usually go with gluten-free things - coconut flour, sorghum flour, xantham gum, brown rice flour. I just love the feeling that I can make anything on a whim. I like being well stocked. So I tend to grab things when I'm out shopping that I might have seen in a recipe once, somewhere because of you-never-know-when-you-might-need-it.
Like, you never know when you might need to whip up a batch of gluten-free raspberry crumb bars.
Creating a perfect and effortless dessert table:
The ideal dessert table as a large variety of items. So there is something for everyone. Lemon, fruit-based and of course chocolate. Here a few tips to make sure your dessert table makes all your guests happy without killing yourself in the kitchen:
- Plan your dessert table in advance so that you have time to bake all the goodies and to ensure you have covered everyone's favourites
- Ask for help - but don't be afraid to ask for specifics. Ask someone to bring their favourite bundt cake, and some else to bring a lemon dessert, and yet a third person to bring brownies. You don't want to end up with too many of the same thing.
- Cover the basics in flavours - lemon, chocolate, fruit-filled...
- Choose desserts you can freeze and make them ahead of time. And start early.
- Supplement your homemade baked goods with bakery items - fancy cupcakes or decorated cookies. Things that take time to make. And then plate them right alongside the homemade goodies.
- Cut desserts into small serving sizes. The smaller the better. You want things to be just a bite or two. Your guests will appreciate this so that they can sample as many things as possible. Cut squares small, half or even a quarter of a normal serving, slice cakes and bundt cakes in thin slices and arrange on a pretty platter.
- Consider dietary restrictions of your guests: for this party, we knew ahead of time we had some gluten-free folks attending. So we made sure they would have plenty of options. Which is where this recipe came in.
- Mix and match your plates and platters. The easiest thing you can do to dress up your dessert table is to be intentional about the plating! Don' just leave stuff in the Tupperware and cardboard boxes it came in. Plates and platters don't need to be expensive or fancy. I like to use tiers and flat platters in different shapes and sizes. To make this easy - things don't need to match. But I like to stick with all white or glass in different shapes and sizes. Pastel colours for a girly themed party are nice too. Let the desserts shine and make the table look pretty.
- Fresh fruit always dresses up the dessert table. Use strawberries, raspberries and grapes to add colour to platters of cakes and cookies.
Some recipes to try that work nicely in a dessert table:
- Lemon poppy seed bundt cake
- Chocolate Fudge Oat Bars - gluten-free
- Easy lemon cheesecake squares
- Rhubarb Coffeecake
This recipe comes from Gluten-Free Goddess, with few modifications, you can find her original recipe here. For those of you who are concerned with gluten-free and are looking for more recipes, I whole heartily recommend her site. It is full. FULL. of amazing recipes - many of which are vegan too.
Raspberry Crumb Bars
- 1 cup ground almond flour
- ½ cup sorghum flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- 1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup Earth Balance stick
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 500 ml jar of raspberry preserves you will use about ¾ of it, or 400 ml
For the crumb topping - first layer:
- ½ cup sorghum flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 5 tablespoons Earth Balance
For the crumb topping - second layer:
- 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ⅔ cup sliced almonds
- 4 tablespoons Earth Balance
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
- Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Leave a bit of overhang on at least two sides to make it easy for pull the bars out later.
Make the bottom cookie crust:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine the flours, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and spices. Cut in the Earth balance and vanilla (GFG's technique to use the whisk attachment of a standmixer really does work well here). Dough should be crumbly but will stick together when you press it between your fingers.
- Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press it out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool a bit. Keep the oven heated.
Crumb topping - first layer:
- In a bowl, combine the sorghum flour and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and cut in the Earth Balance. Rub together with your hands to create crumbs. Set aside.
Crumb topping - second layer:
- In a small sauce pan, melt the vegan butter and white sugar. Add the flaked coconut, sliced almonds and vanilla and stir to coat. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While the crust is still a bit warm, spoon on the raspberry jam and spread evenly using the back of a spoon, up to the edges- leaving about ¼-inch bare crust on all sides.
- Sprinkle on the crumb topping, then sprinkle on the coconut-almond topping and spread it evenly over the top.
- Bake at 350 for 22-24 minutes. The raspberry jam will bubble and the crumble topping will turn golden brown. The bars will continue to set as they cool.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before removing from the pan to cut into squares. I allowed the bars to cool completely and then put the whole pan in the freezer. To cut from frozen allow the bars to sit for about 10 minutes then slice with a heavy and sharp knife. Leftovers freeze well for several weeks.