I’M HOME. And I couldn’t be more excited. It is so nice to be in my own house with my own routine after 55+ hours of sitting in the car (over a period of time … not all in one go, I’m not trying to set a world record.) I’m only here for a couple days before I’m off to camp, so I want to make the most of it! Buuuuut guess who way overestimated her ability to make and create a post in 24 hours? Yeah, mwa.
Nora from A Clean Bake saved the day! She was set to guest post later in the week, but she graciously agreed to help me save face and post today. Ever since I found her blog, I was hooked. She is a sweet, sweet person who creates amazing recipes that give her personality a run for its money, just without loads of butter and sugar! Check out the recipe she has for you today – point in case! Berry Crumble Bars that are vegan and without refined sugars. And while you are at it, check out her Gluten Free and Vegan Butternut Squash and Thyme Biscuits. o.O I made them yesterday and they’re amazing. And so is Nora!
I’m so excited to be here today guest posting for Mary Frances while she is off enjoying a fabulous vacation. Mary Frances is one of my favorite bloggers because her recipes are a nonstop reminder that you can totally enjoy dessert while eating a healthy and/or limited diet. I first found her wonderful blog earlier this year when I was suddenly forbidden from eating so many ingredients I considered vital to baking and desserts, but sites like hers inspired me to start finding ways to eat dessert without sacrificing my health! So, when she invited me to guest post, I jumped at the chance. I’m really so honored to be here today!
But enough about me. Let’s talk berries.
There is nothing that ushers in summer like a berry dessert. Are you with me? Excellent. Because this one in particular is pretty packed full of them. It’s a layer of (secretly healthy) oatmeal shortbread crust, topped with a generous layer of mixed berry jam, topped with a layer of fresh strawberry slices, topped with yet another layer of shortbread crumble. I mean, what’s not to love??
If you’re curious, yes, you can definitely use whatever jam you have on hand. Strawberry would be great, or blueberry, or even apricot or something. This recipe is incredibly versatile. If you don’t have fresh strawberries on hand, you can use a different berry (raspberries would be amazing) or another fruit altogether. Try to stick with sturdier fruits like berries or stone fruits for the fresh fruit layer, though. In other words, probably best to avoid citrus. But apricot jam with fresh peach slices? Magic, I tell ya.
Ok, I’m getting distracted. I just love these bars so much and I want you to love them too. But the reason I love them is the berries! I cheated a little bit and used pre-made berry jam (Whole Food’s house brand mixed berry flavor) which consists of just fruit, pectin and sugar. However, since bottled jams do contain a lot of sugar, and I try not to go overboard with sweetness so that the fruit and other ingredients will have a moment to shine, I made the crust and crumble a little less sweet. If your taste buds prefer things on the sweeter side, feel free to increase the sweetener in the crumble to taste.
Before I give you the recipe so you can go make them, I’d be irresponsible not to tell you a little bit about the crust of these, which is hearty yet tender and lightly sweet and nutty. The sweetness comes from coconut sugar, which compliments the flavor of the berries really well, and if you’re not familiar with it, you don’t have to worry: it doesn’t taste like coconut.
But the real star here is actually…oatmeal, if you can believe it. Or, really, rolled oats, to be precise. They are incorporated into the dough in two ways: whole, and in the form of oat flour, which, if you don’t have it on hand already, you can easily make (instructions here). The oats really offer something unexpected, and as a benefit, they make this dessert entirely gluten free (just make sure you are using oats/oat flour that specifically says “certified gluten free” on the package.).
Really, this dessert is a win-win. If you’re a fruit-dessert person, it is oozing with sweet, crisp berry flavor. And if you’re a cookie person (like I am!), the fruit is supported by just the right about of hearty-yet-tender oatmeal shortbread crust to suit your fancy. Everyone’s happy!
Berry Crumble Bars
Nora from A Clean Bake
- For the crust:
- •1/4 cup vegan butter (or an additional ¼ cup coconut oil), melted
- •1/4 coconut oil (or an additional ¼ cup vegan butter), melted
- •1/4 cup honey (substitute agave or maple syrup if vegan)
- •1/4 cup coconut sugar (optional, or to taste - I didn't use any in this layer)
- •1½ cup gluten-free oat flour
- •1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- •1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- •Pinch salt (optional)
- For the filling:•3/4 cup mixed berry jam
- •5 large strawberries, sliced
- For the crumble:
- •3 Tablespoons melted vegan butter or coconut oil
- •1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
- •1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- •2 Tablespoons coconut sugar (more to taste)
- •Pinch salt
- •1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8"x8" pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Make the base by mixing all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are slightly golden.
- While the base is cooking, make the crumble by thoroughly combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.
- When the base is done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly (10 minutes or more). Spread the jam in a single layer on top of the crust, and arrange the strawberry slices evenly over the top of the jam.
- Use your fingers to distribute the crumble in little blobs evenly across the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes, and allow to cool before cutting and serving.
- Store the leftovers, with wax paper between layers, in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Nora, these look delicious. Thank you so much for sharing these today! Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!