Jan 142011
Baking, when you have a so-called “healthy” cooking blog, can get a little tricky.  Baked goods without sugar and butter just aren’t as tasty. Period.  But, you don’t want to seem like a total hypocrite and make something totally indulgent and disgustingly delicious.  It’s about finding the balance, and these bars are it.

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. 

To make the production a little easier, I designed the bars so the top and bottom could be the exact same mixture, but seem a little different.  I mixed the dry ingredients (pecans, flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking soda) and took half of the mixture to grind in a food processor.  That way, the oats and nuts because flour like giving the bars a consistently textured, cookie-like base.  I left the top chunky for a crumbly affect.

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.

  2 Responses to “Apple-Pecan Crumb Bars”

  1. these look amazing! i’m in college and have limited supplies but i am making these once i get home!

  2. Yay!!! These were so tasty! I didn’t realize you had made a post about them :) -Meera

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