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So GoodAug/Sept 2008 Issue

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes

A cross between cookies and cake, bars can be made in many variations. Add a gooey filling or layer them with coconut, chopped nuts (if tolerated) or fresh or dried fruit. The choices are limited only by your imagination.

Unlike cookies that must be formed individually, bars can be baked, cooled, served and stored—all in the same pan. A large pan can feed a small army. And they can be prepared a day ahead.

Best of all, bar recipes can be adapted for a variety of food allergies without sacrificing taste or texture. Dairy-free margarine or vegetable shortening can replace butter, eggs can be omitted without a noticeable change and wheat flour can be replaced with a gluten-free flour blend.

Every family has a couple of favorite desserts they whip up time and again when invited to a potluck dinner or a special gathering. Here are two reader-favorite bars—recipes that are easy to prepare and guaranteed delicious.

S’mores Bars

MAKES 24 BARS

These bars have all the fixings of the popular campfire treat—chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. Campfire is optional.

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
1½ cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs or gluten-free graham crackers, finely ground*
2  teaspoons baking powder
1½  teaspoons xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
1½  cups semi-sweet chocolate chips**
4  cups mini marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil leaving a 2 to 3-inch overhang on two opposite ends and spray foil with vegetable oil. Or lightly oil a disposable 9x13-inch baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.

3. In separate bowl, mix together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.

4. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended.

5. Press half the dough into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over dough. Sprinkle with marshmallows.

6. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow, pressing to cover the marshmallows. Don’t worry if some marshmallows are showing.  

7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Lift out of pan by aluminum foil handles. Set on a smooth surface and cut into bars. If using a disposable pan, cut into squares in the pan.

*TIP For gluten-free graham crackers, visit www.josefsglutenfree.com.

Apricot Chocolate Bars

MAKES 16 BARS

These bars combine two favorite foods, chocolate and apricots, to produce a chewy, decadent dessert. If you’re eating nut free, substitute crunchy rice cereal for the pecans and omit step 3.

6 ounces dried apricots (about 1 cup firmly packed), chopped fine
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⅓ cups pecans (about 4 ounces) or gluten-free crunchy rice cereal
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup semi-sweet gluten-free chocolate chips**
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
Confectioner’s sugar  

1. To make apricot filling, combine apricots, granulated sugar and water in 1½-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and continue to simmer, stirring and mashing apricots until excess liquid is evaporated and filling thickens. Stir in vanilla. Set filling aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 to 3-inch overhang on two opposite ends. Spray foil with vegetable oil.  

3. On a separate baking sheet, toast pecans in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool.  

4. In a food processor, pulse pecans, flour, xanthan gum, brown sugar and salt until mixture is coarsely chopped. Add chocolate chips and butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5. Press half the chocolate chip mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan.

6. Spread apricot filling evenly over chocolate chip mixture.

7. Crumble remaining chocolate chip mixture evenly over apricot filling, pressing down slightly.

8. Bake bars in preheated oven 1 hour or until golden. Remove pan from oven and cool on baking rack. Lift out of pan by aluminum foil handles. Set on a smooth surface and cut into bars. If using a disposable pan, cut into squares right in the pan. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cut into bars.

**TIP For chocolate chips without gluten, dairy and soy, visit www.EnjoyLifeFoods.com. LW

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