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3 Ways to Get Creative with Gluten-Free Blondies

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No wheat, no problem—dessert is served! We partnered with Simple Mills to share three variations on one of our favorite gluten-free treats you'll want to bake all summer long.

Gluten-free baking often requires a pantry. I'm not talking about the cramped shelf in my New York City kitchen where I squish the bags of flour up against the dried beans—I'm talking about a full-fledged, very prepared pantry, where a gamut of flours (but only the ones kept at room temperature!) are stored in neat little containers clearly labeled with their "best by" dates.

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The type of pantry Alice Medrich has.

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If you're a fully-committed gluten-free baker, you might have a line-up of hard flours (like brown rice, almond, buckwheat, or teff) and medium flours (like chickpea, oat, millet, or sorghum) and all sorts of other friends (potato starch, xanthan gum, tapioca flour, cassava flour, tigernut flour? coffee flour? ...the list goes on). And if you're really organized, you keep your own favorite gluten-free flour blend on hand.

But for those of us who fly more frequently by the seat of our pants, it's easier to find a few trust-worthy gluten-free recipes you know you love, and then play with them until you have options. So gluten-free chocolate-chocolate cookies get white chocolate chips and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom; clafoutis gets roasted peaches in August (then apples in October); and banana cake mix becomes cinnamon-swirled, crumble-topped muffins.

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Divine gluten-free chocolate cookies. No seriously.

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One of my go-to gluten-free recipes—one of my go-to blondie recipes, period—was featured on this site back in 2011, back before gluten-free baking or eating was as widespread as it is today. Besides the two easy-to-find flours (almond and coconut), you need only five other run-of-the-mill ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt) for a gooey, caramely treat.

Even Amanda and Merrill, the original recipe testers, were "skeptical of traditional favorites reworked so that they're gluten-free" but realized that "nishis's blondies [broke] new ground in the world of bar cookies."

Blondies -- Gluten-Free and Completely Delicious
Blondies -- Gluten-Free and Completely Delicious

So I took the success of this recipe and ran with it. Why mess with a formula that works?

First, I altered the add-ins in the original, swapping out the dried cherries and toasted hazelnuts for chunks of candied ginger and pineapple (I left in the dark chocolate, obviously).

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Gluten-Free Strawberry Tart Bars

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Serves 20 to 25
  • 2 cups (scant) brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the strawberries
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds (it's fine to substitute slivered or sliced!)
  • 4 cups hulled and sliced ripe strawberries (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
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Then, I turned the blondies into strawberry tart bars: I reserved some of the base and mixed it with almonds and oats for a crumble topping, then chilled both components until they firmed up. By pressing the dough into the pan and baking it like a tart crust—until it browned and crisped—it could handle the weight (and water) of the strawberries and the oat-and-almond nuggets when the whole thing went back into the oven for a shorter stint. The result is a crisp, cookie-like bottom topped by just-cooked berries and a soft nutty dough.

Pretty but weird but good!

A photo posted by sarahjampel (@sarahjampel) on

Finally, the "lemonies"—lemon poppy seed bars that are more snack cake than fudge. Mascarpone gives them levity and lemon juice cuts some of the brown sugar sweetness (but add the optional glaze if you want some of that back).

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Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Bars (Lemonies!)

Bb305185 6b66 45c6 ac96 6204c9dd8a30  dsc09796 Sarah Jampel
19 Save Recipe
Serves 20 to 25

For the bars:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted (preferably on the stove so that it gets a bit browned) and cooled slightly
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 ounces mascarpone or softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds

For the optional glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
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From one recipe, three distinctively different gluten-free baked goods—a solution for making a whole spread of treats for a barbecue, bake sale, or basketball game out of one family of ingredients. And all it takes is two types of flours to do it!

This is all to say that there is room for creativity in gluten-free baking—and it doesn't even require a closet-sized pantry.

Almond flour baking mixes and crackers from Simple Mills aren't just gluten-free—they're artificial ingredient-free, too. So they're great for when you're getting people together or just throwing a party for one. See all their products here—plus their own riff on our blondie recipe.


See more from the illustrated biographies of 16.5 global desserts

Tags: simple mills, blondies