For my coworkers birthday (insert shout-out to Meera here) I wanted to make something fruity, nutty, and with the perfect healthy/decadent balance. These bars have a base and crumb of oats, pecans, whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, and (cough..butter and brown sugar). The center is thinly sliced granny smith apples coated in cinnamon. Not terrible for you, but not too healthy to be considered a birthday treat.
Nutritional Highlights: While there’s a decent ammount of butter and sugar in this recipe, I would still venture to say it’s a much better choice than many other desserts out there. Aside from the few unhealthy ingredients, there are a lot of good ones in there like whole grain oats and flour, raw pecans, flax seed, and fresh apples. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these to someone trying to be SUPER regimented, but if you want to make a treat that won’t totally ruin your healthy diet, then these are a great option. Cut into small squares or triangles for good portion control. Guess that doesn’t help though when you go back for a second…or third.
For the Oatmeal-Pecan Crust:
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, divided
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tspn baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (could substitute all purpose or half and half)
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
- Optional: 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal or wheat germ for extra healthiness
For the apple filling:
- 3 large or 4 small granny smith apples
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking pan with parchment or coat with cooking spray. (The pan I used was 11×7 but you could also use a square pan). Prepare the crust by mixing all crust ingredients except butter. Put half of this mixture in your food processor and grind so it is fine flour-like consistency. Mix 1/2 of the softened butter (6 tablespoons) into this fine mixture and press into your pan for the crust.
Then peel and thinly slice your apples. Toss in cinnamon, brown sugar, and corn starch (this is so it doesn’t get runny), and spread evenly over the crust.
Now take the chunky dry mixture you have left and cut in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter. Using 2 knives or a pastry butter cutter thing (I obviously don’t have one), cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the crumb over the top, enough to cover completely but don’t feel forced to use it all.
Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until brown on top. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before cutting or you will have a crumbly mess. Cut into small squares or triangles and serve. Prepare to be loved.