Yep. It’s October, but I’m squeezing in one more peach recipe before they are gone for the year. As quickly as peach season arrives, it also ends. Sad, sad, sad. I was horribly disappointed to find the local farm I have been visiting sold out of my favorite variety of peaches within just a few hours. Hours. I think it was while I was in New York City a few weeks ago, so it couldn’t be helped. Sigh. But I’m glad to know I’m still able to snag some other varieties before they’re gone too. (And I’m totally fine because there’s pumpkin everything, apples, pears, cranberries, and pomegranate!) The truth is, I’ve been dying to share this recipe with you. The wee problem was that I never managed to buy enough peaches at a time to keep up with my family’s voracious appetite for the fuzzy, blushing fruit. By the time I’d get ready to make the bars to photograph, the peaches were gone. I don’t know how many times that happened. But it’s totally okay. We’re all fine because I’m sharing it with you now. These Gluten-Free Peach Custard Bars with Sugar Cookie Crust are about to blow your mind with their deliciousness.
Are you a fan of peaches? Are you a fan of lemon bars? Let’s marry the two together with a pecan sugar cookie crust. That filling! I’ve run out of adjectives to describe it. Imagine you’re biting into a juicy, ripe, honey-sweet peach with the texture of custard or even lemon curd. It’s rich and creamy, bursting with all the flavor of fresh peaches. That pan you see in the picture down there? It disappeared in about 12 hours. And that was with me hiding it away in the fridge to cool enough to cut into bars. My family armed themselves with forks, forgot about being civilized, and ate their way through the pan. You know that thing about evening up the rows? Yeah. That. I was in charge of that part, which I took very seriously.
The crust is made with Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix. That is a great mix. Sometimes gluten-free crusts can end up too crumbly. This one was perfect – buttery and sweet, and it held together nicely when cut.
The filling is made similarly to lemon bars, except with a lot less sugar. Three big-ish peaches are just about right. I added a little fresh lemon juice, almond and vanilla extracts to enhance the flavor of the peaches. The cornstarch helps keep the filling set up a bit more than if only eggs were used. It’s almost like pudding, but without the milk. In other words, the filling is peach perfection.
So hurry on out and buy up some of the last fall peaches and make these stat!
- For gluten-free crust:
- 8 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 package Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 2 large egg yolks
- For peach custard filling:
- 3 cups peach puree (from 3-4 peaches)
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- Pinch sea salt
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
- For crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Place pecans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add the Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix and pulse to combine. Scatter the cold butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal with some larger pieces of butter remaining. While pulsing, drizzle the egg yolks through the feed hole. Continue pulsing until the dough holds together.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan making sure to press firmly to create an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
- For filling:
- While crust is baking, puree peaches in a blender, stopping and scraping down sides as needed. Measure out 3 cups of puree and save any extra puree for another use.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together evaporated cane juice, cornstarch, and salt. Add the peach puree, egg yolks, lemon juice, and extracts. Whisk until smooth.
- When the crust is finished baking, pour the filling into the pan and place back in oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or just until filling is set. (Start checking around 20 minutes as oven temperatures may differ.)
- Let cool completely. Dust the top lightly with powdered sugar. Cut into bars.
- Can be chilled for easier cutting.
HOW TO PHOTOS + TIPS
Assemble all of your ingredients! Note – the picture shows an 8-inch pan, but it was supposed to be a 9- by 13-inch pan. Doh! (Or dough!)
Using a food processor to mix up the dough is super easy, but it can also be done by hand. It’s made similarly to tart dough. Place the pecans into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the sugar cookie mix and pulse again to combine. Scatter cold butter over the dry ingredients, pulse a few times to work the butter into the dry ingredients, then add the egg yolks a little at a time through the feed hole until the dough comes together. It should be soft and pliable, but not sticky. If it’s too dry for some reason, add a little tiny bit of cold water – no more than a few teaspoons – and pulse a few more times.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and place in the oven. While the crust is baking, whisk up the peach filling. This can also be done in a blender. Just be careful not to overmix it if you use a blender because you don’t want the filling to be full of air bubbles.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour the filling over the hot crust and put it back into the oven for a bit.
The filling should be set when the bars are fully baked. It should just barely jiggle in the middle if you gently shake the pan.
Let the bars cool completely. They are easiest to cut when they have been chilled, but room temp is fine too.
Serve them up with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, whipped cream, or yogurt and a sprinkling of powdered sugar and chopped pecans.
Disclosure: This recipe was developed in partnership with Pamela’s Products as a Baking Partner. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.