A gluten-free version of pie bars complete with a buttery shortbread, nutty frangipane, and a crumble on the top. The perfect thing to make if you are looking to get back to the delicious basics.
By Becky Winkler
If the modern world has you feeling a bit beaten down, I have a solution for you. Go and listen to the Cheers song over and over while you make yourself a batch of pie bars. They are just the thing if “your third fiancé didn’t show”, “your shrink ran off to Europe and didn’t even write”, or if, like me, you’ve just had kind of a long week.
Put all that behind you, because it’s the weekend and we’re having pie bars. I’ve been playing around with almond blueberry pie bars for a while now (you can see a glutinous version here and my first paleo iteration here), but these are by far the best. The crust is a buttery, crunchy shortbread, enhanced with just a hint of almond extract, and the frangipane layer is a nutty custard (spiked with a tiny bit of rum if you’re up for it–it is, after all, the freakin’ weekend). A layer of wild blueberries and some crust crumbles finish things off.
- 2¼ cups lightly packed almond flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground raw sugar or coconut sugar*
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 cup raw almonds
- ¼ cup raw sugar or coconut sugar*
- ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water, plus more as needed
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1½ cups frozen blueberries*
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease an 8x12 or 9x13-inch pan with butter or ghee.
- To make the crust, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter or ghee and extracts and mix well with a fork or your fingers. The dough will be crumbly, but should stick together when squeezed. Set aside ⅔ cup of the dough for topping the bars later. Press the remainder of the dough into the bottom of the greased pan to form a crust.
- Bake the crust for about 18 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
- While the crust is baking, make the frangipane. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth (tiny pieces of almond are fine). Add more water a tablespoon at a time if necessary to facilitate blending.
- Spread the frangipane on top of the crust, using a spatula to help it reach all four corners. Sprinkle the frozen blueberries evenly on top of the frangipane, and then sprinkle the reserved dough on top of the blueberries.
- Bake bars for about 30 minutes, until light golden brown on top. Cool completely in the pan, and then slice into bars. I sliced mine crosswise into ten strips, and then cut all the strips in half, but you could also cut them into squares if you prefer.
- The pie bars will keep, covered at room temperature, for up to 2 days. You could probably refrigerate them and store them for a little longer.
Becky Winkler is an enthusiastic eater who shares paleo and gluten-free recipes on her blog, A Calculated Whisk. She enjoys chopping chocolate, salting dessert, searing short ribs, and taking pictures. In her other life, she's a grad student in Boston.