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Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Bars

31 October

makes 18 bars

Crust ingredients:

1 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts) or old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use brown rice flour)
1/2 cup sugar or sweetener of choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Filling ingredients:

6 cups diced apples, divided
1/2 cup apple cider or orange juice
1/2 cup sugar or sweetener of choice
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. To prepare crust: Combine 3/4 cup nuts or oats, both flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and pulse until well incorporated.

2. Whisk egg, oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. With the motor running, add this to the mixture in the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30-45 seconds (it will look crumbly). Measure out 1/2 cup of mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped nuts or oats. Set aside for topping.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously coat a 9-by-13 inch dish with oil.

4. To prepare fruit filling and assemble bars: Combine 4 cups apples, cider or orange juice, sugar and arrowroot in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 cups apples, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

5. Transfer the dough to the prepared dish. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread apple filling evenly over crust all the way to the edges. Sprinkle reserved topping evenly over the filling and pat lightly.

6. Bake bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until crust and topping are lightly brown, 25-30 minutes more. Let cool completely before cutting bars, at least 1 1/2 hours.