I had a vegetable drawer filled with fuji apples that had seen better days. They were not fit to eat for my mid morning snack. It’s rare that I clean out my vegetable bin and throw things away. I always try and “re purpose” neglected veggies and fruit and turn them into something delicious.
These apples were no different. I need to turn them into something yummy and a crostata wasn’t going to cut it (my usual go to dessert when I have too much of one thing on hand). A few weeks back I had given away a copy of The Fearless Baker on this blog post and I really wanted to bake a few more things from the book. I remembered reading about her Apple Crisp Bars and earmarked the page. I grabbed the book and started collecting ingredients. I already have a favorite crust for fruit type bars as well as a streusel topping. I did, however, make her apple filling and it was good enough to eat with a spoon, all on it’s own.
I brought these to a casual lunch and both men and women devoured them. The kids topped the ends and the leftovers with vanilla bean ice cream and said it was hands down better than any apple dessert they had ever tasted. This gets my vote as well!
Apple Crisp Bars
Adapted from The Fearless Baker
yield: 16 3″ individual tarts or 1 9″x13″ baking pan
for the crust:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
for the apple filling:
3 lbs. fuji apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup organic white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
zest from half of a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
for the streusel topping
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup sucanant
7 tablespoons (3.5 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
For the crust
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″x13″ metal baking pan (I used a rectangle tart pan and 6 individual 3″ tart pans). Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse a few times. Add the chopped butter (I freeze it for about 45 minutes before using) and add to bowl, pulse and process it until it forms pea sized lumps. Sprinkle mixture into a 9″x 13″ baking pan, lined with foil which has been sprayed. Press mixture down, making sure to get the corners. Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the filling:
Turn oven up to 375°F. Place prepared apples, sugar, cinnamon, salt, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large skillet. Cover apples and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. When apples are soft, if some liquid remains, turn up heat and cook until liquid has evaporated. Let cool. Mash apple mixture with a potato masher, leaving lots of chunks. Add 1/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.
Pour apple mixture over cooked crust.
For the streusel topping:
In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the nuts, whole wheat pastry flour, and sucanat. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine. Sprinkle streusel over apple filling. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown. Let cool to room temperature before serving. This is great with a side of homemade caramel sauce and a scoop of ice cream!
* I like to make 2-3 batches of this and keep it in the freezer. having streusel topping for baked apples, crisps, and crostatas helps create desserts in a snap.
Susan Salzman writes The Urban Baker blog to explore her dedication to good food in the hope of adding beauty to the lives of her family and friends.