Alex starts his first “real life” job tomorrow, so we spent the weekend rearranging all of the furniture in our apartment so that we now have a real office space for the two of us, instead of a desk in each bedroom. There’s still a ways to go until I’ll be totally content with it, but it’s different enough for now; since Alex got a job in Buffalo with a company he’s been collaborating with at UB, he wanted to make sure that things felt new and different, rather than pretty much all of the same things, minus classes (and a new office location). This morning, before I got back into the organizing (and I’ll be honest, I still haven’t really gotten back into it today), I had to do some baking. With how much we’ve been moving around, something energy packed sounded good, so I made these apple bars that I had been eying up for a long time.
These apple bars have the flavors of apple crisp or apple cake without any of the guilt. Sweetened only with dates and the apples themselves, you don’t have to worry about a major sugar high and crash later in the day. Walnuts and coconut contribute healthy fats and fiber. The bit of oats add in some of the apple crisp flavor, and a hefty dose of cinnamon rounds it all out.
These are super easy to make, too. After toasting the walnuts, oats, and coconut together, you just dump everything in the food processor and blend it until it’s no longer chunky. Spread it in a pan, bake it, cool slightly, cut into bars. And they’re fantastic hot or cold. I’ll tell you right now that I can’t really single out the coconut taste in these, and you probably won’t either, so fear not if you’re a coconut hater (if you’re still unsure about it, just swap out all the coconut for more oats)!
These are great for pretty much anytime: on-the-go breakfasts, between-meal snacks, dessert.. there isn’t really a time these aren’t appropriate to eat. You can also pop these in the freezer to save for later and just pull them out as you need them. I can’t wait to have one for dessert tonight!
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1/2 cup rolled oats*
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups dates, pitted
- 2 cups apples, chopped (about 2 medium apples)**
Toast the walnuts, oats, and coconut on a baking sheet at 350ºF until lightly golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Leaving the oven on, line a 9x9 inch (or 8x8 inch) pan with parchment paper.
Transfer the toasted nut mixture to the bowl of a food processor, and add the cinnamon, salt, and dates. Process until crumbly - there should be no large chunks at this point. Add in the chopped apples, and process until there are no more large chunks of apple - it will become almost like a paste.
Spread the mixture evenly into the parchment lined pan, and bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes, until it springs back slightly from the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before cutting into 10 bars. Remove from the pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or freeze, tightly wrapped.
*If you are gluten intolerant, make sure to use certified gluten free oats. **I used Empire apples, but feel free to choose your favorite - Granny Smith work especially well here.
adapted from Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker