Gluten Free Vegan Peach Cherry Crumb Bars (made with Homefree Vanilla Cookies)

Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Seed Free, Top 8 Allergy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

I have a great story to tell about how this recipe was born! 💙A few months ago I was in a local supermarket and saw a packet of Homefree vanilla cookies. As you know, I bake everything for Casey, but I always love finding safe prepackaged snacks, especially since he’s starting kindergarten in the fall. I called the company as I usually do to see if they could be safe and struck up a great conversation with the person who answered who happened to be Jill, the founder and owner of Homefree. It turns out that Jill is an allergy mom like the rest of us and in her dedication to make her child a safe cookie it turned into a business and a successful SAFE product! I told Jill about my background as a pastry chef and my recipe adaptations for safe treats and asked if I could use Homefree cookies in a recipe. She agreed and now we have Peach Cherry Crumb Bars! 🍑🍒

Homefree cookies are one of the most inclusive brands you can buy; they can proudly state that they are not only Top 14 (!!!) allergen free, they’re also gluten, rice, and potato free, non-GMO, kosher pareve, vegan, and low glycemic index.  The company holds very high standards for allergen-related safety; Homefree cookies are produced in their own facility.

There are many different delicious flavors of Homefree cookies, but I used the vanilla cookies crushed for the crumbs and base of the bars. I wanted to make these in the summer because the first thing that came to my mind was peach and cherry combo. Any fruit can be used and any time of the year!

As always this is customizable to your safe needs, all substitutions are given in the notes. If crushed cookies aren’t available then you can use all flour instead, but it won’t be as tasty! 😉

Please give Homefree cookies a try if they’re a safe option for you, I promise you’ll love it! A big thank you to Jill and remember life is short so eat dessert first…safely!!💙👩🏻‍🍳

**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs**

 Ingredients and Substitutions

Crushed Homefree Vanilla Cookies – I chose to use crushed Homefree cookies as the foundation of the crust base and crumb topping but if this is not a safe option or unavailable to you than use can use a plain safe cookie or all flour if need be.  To get the most consistent crumbs, pulse in a food processor.  Alternatively, place in a gallon Ziploc bag and crush cookies with a rolling pin.

Flour – I use gluten free flour here but regular all-purpose is perfectly fine if you don’t need to avoid.  I do recommend using a scale to measure because different blends are sensitive to weight.  The proportion is 140 g. per 1 cup of flour.  An overmeasurement on the flour will cause it to be gummy.  If your gluten free flour blend does not contain xanthan gum, add ¼ tsp. per 1 c. of flour.  The xanthan gum is necessary to give the baked good structure in the absence of gluten.  I use King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten free flour blend.

Vegan butter, shortening or regular butter– This is a recipe where any of your safe substitutions will work, whether it’s vegan or regular shortening (I like Spectrum), vegan butter or margarine, or real butter. My choice is shortening for this.  I like the moisture it gives as well as a crunchy topping. I do not recommend using coconut oil or vegetable oil for this.  You need a solid fat for the crumbs and base, coconut oil gets too soft, and the crumbs will sink. 

Egg – Egg substitute can work well in here because there is only one in the recipe.  I have used both egg, applesauce and egg replacer. For the vegan version I used applesauce. I like Ener-G brand for commercial egg replacer, and I always like using a baking powder egg.  To make a baking powder egg, mix together 2 Tbls. water, 2 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. oil.  Don’t prepare until you are ready to use it. 

Fresh Fruit – In total 4 cups of chopped fruit are needed, I opted for peaches and cherries because they scream summer!  Any fruit can be used but make sure it is cut small and not too juicy. The fruit gets tossed with some starch to thicken the filling but if it’s too juicy the crust and crumbs will be soft. I also prefer to skin the fruit.  Good combinations are apples and raisins, pears and craisins, nectarines and blueberries, etc. 

**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**

Gluten Free Vegan Peach Cherry Crumb Bars (made with Homefree Vanilla Cookies)

Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Seed Free, Top 8 Allergy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Author: Katie Martino Lopez

Prep Time: 25 minutes

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Bake Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: About one hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 24 square bars

Ingredients

Cookie Base/Crumb Topping

  • 2 c. (240 g./8.5 oz.) crushed Homefree or safe vanilla cookies
  • 1 ¼ c. (175 g./6 oz.) gluten free or regular flour (add ¼ tsp. xanthan gum if your gf flour blend does not contain)

NOTE: if crushed cookies are not being used, increase flour amount to 3 c. (420 g./15 oz.)

  • ½ c. (113 g./4 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Optional ¼ tsp. each nutmeg and ginger
  • ¼ c. applesauce OR 1 egg OR 1 baking powder egg OR egg replacer of choice
  • 1 c. (140 g./8 oz) vegan or regular butter or shortening (slightly soften vegan/regular butter if using)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fruit Filling

  • 4 c. fresh peaches and cherries, cut small. NOTE: I prefer to take the skin off of fruit like peaches, apples, pears and nectarines but you can leave if you’d like.  Cherries should be cut in half.
  • ½ c. (113 g./4 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbls. cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca starch

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13”x9” pan and set aside. 
  2. In a food processor or in a zip top bag, crush Homefree vanilla cookies finely to make 2 c. worth of crumbs.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed cookies, flour, ½ c. sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and optional nutmeg and ginger. Whisk to evenly combine and add the safe butter/shortening, egg/egg replacement of choice and vanilla extract.
  4. Using a pastry blender or fingers, blend all ingredients together until a damp dough is created. Add half of the dough mixture to the prepared pan and press evenly in the bottom to create a crust.  Set aside.  If the mixture has become very soft, refrigerate 10 minutes.  Refrigerate remaining dough, this is going to be crumbled over the fruit as the topping.
  5. Prepare the fruit filling by skinning and slicing. You will need 4 c. total-for this recipe I used 3 c. white peaches and 1 c. fresh cherries (pitted of course!).
  6. Toss the fruit with your starch of choice and ½ c. sugar. NOTE:  DO NOT combine the fruit with the starch and sugar too far in advance as the sugar will draw all the moisture out of the fruit and you will have a too much liquid.  It will make the crust very soggy.
  7. Immediately add the fruit mixture to the crust base and spread evenly. Crumble the remaining dough over the top to create the crumb topping.  There should be just enough with a few little open patches.
  8. Bake immediately in prepared oven for approximately 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes on a rack just to let the heat evaporate out of the crumb topping and keep it crisp.   This is AWESOME served warm with safe ice cream or safe whipped topping.
  9. Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temp or the fridge for a few days but expect it to soften because of the moisture on the fruit. A few minutes in a warm oven will crisp the crumbs right back up!

Recipe Notes

  • The crumb bars freeze beautifully for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator and warm in the oven to recrisp the crumbs.
  • The fruit can be cut up to one day in advance. Drain before adding sugar and cornstarch. Frozen fruit can be used as well but it must be defrosted and drained.
  • Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temp or the fridge for a few days but expect it to soften because of the moisture on the fruit. A few minutes in a warm oven will crisp the crumbs right back up!

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Disclaimer

As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…

Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.

And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!

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