We all love desserts, but refined sugar and flour can wreak havoc on our health. Thankfully, we’ve discovered the whole food, grain-free recipes on the blog and bakery Sweet Laurel, founded by Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas. Gallucci has developed moist and tempting baked goods to cater to her own digestive disorders, and Thomas, founder of The Kitchy Kitchen, immediately recognized an opportunity for both women to share the food they loved with others. In their first cookbook, Sweet Laurel ($28), Gallucci and Thomas have crafted cakes, tarts, pies, and more from alternative flours, making it possible for those with even the most intense gluten intolerances or food allergies to enjoy baked goods again.

If you’re skeptical that such treats could look and taste amazing, try out the grain-free apple pie bars from the cookbook in the recipe below, and see for yourself why you need to make these vegan caramel-drizzled treats ASAP. You’ll feel instantly inspired to share the love by bringing them to your next gathering.

Apple Pie Bars

(Makes 1 dozen bars)


Vegan Caramel:



Streusel Topping:


1. Vegan Caramel: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

2. Transfer the caramel to a glass jar and place in the refrigerator to chill. The caramel will stiffen up in the refrigerator, so if your recipe calls for it to be spreadable, let the caramel sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, and give it a good stir before using. The caramel will keep for about 1 month, refrigerated.

3. Apple Pie Bars: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 13 × 9-inch pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges for easy removal.

4. Make the crust. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then gradually stir in the coconut oil and egg. Mix well until everything is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.

5. Make the filling. In a large bowl, combine the apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Mix to coat the apples thoroughly. Melt the coconut oil in a large heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add the apple mixture to the pan and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, until syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. Arrange the coated apple slices in rows across the crust, pouring any leftover pan liquid over them. Bake the bars for 40 to 50 minutes, until the apple slices are golden brown and tender but not mushy.

6. Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and stir until a batter forms. Sprinkle the streusel over the cooked apples, and return the bars to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the streusel turns golden brown, then remove from the oven. Holding two sides of the parchment, lift the bars in one piece from the pan; allow to cool slightly on a rack. Before serving, drizzle the caramel sauce over the bars, and cut into squares. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.

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(Photos and recipe via Laurel Gallucci, Claire Thomas / Clarkson Potter)