Apple Crumble Squares
In my former life, I would make a *ahem* slightly less healthy version of these Apple Crumble Squares on a regular basis. In fact, that dessert, which called for tons of butter, sugar, rolled oats and flour, happened to be one of my boyfriend of the time’s favorite treats and whipping up a batch was a surefire way to make him happy.
And being the awesome girlfriend that I was, I liked making him happy! So I’d make them often. Too often even, perhaps…
But then, I started eating healthy, you know, so these babies got sort of tossed aside and I eventually kinda forgot about their very existence.
That was until I recently came up with a totally legit Paleo Date Square recipe. Then the Apple Crumble Squares all came back to me: the sweet caramelized and pleasantly spiced flavor of the apple filling coupled with the slight saltiness of the crumble… It was more than I could take, so I decided I had to try and replicate the experience, and the sooner the better!
Well, I’m happy to report that the experiment was a complete success! I’m absolutely certain that if I still had a special someone in my life that I could make happy by baking wonderful desserts for them, they would totally approve of this one and demand that I make it for them on regular basis.
Of course, I’d be more than happy to oblige!
The first thing to do is put the ghee and maple syrup into a large skillet set over high heat and bring that to a vigorous boil.
You’ll want to let that boil for a full minute.
Then, add the apples, cinnamon, salt, vanilla bean and lime juice to the skillet.
As you can see, on top of adding the “caviar” that I scraped from the vanilla bean, I also threw in the empty pod. During the cooking process, the pod will release much of its delicious fragrance, which would otherwise to go waste (and what a shame that would be!). We’ll simply fish it out later, when it’s done doing its thing!
Oh, and a quick note about them apples… For these squares, you wanna be sure to use a variety that will not turn into mush after it’s been cooked. My personal favorite for that would be the Golden Delicious, but Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Empire or Cortland would also make excellent choices.
Lower the heat slightly and cook the apples until they are softened and beautifully caramelized and the maple syrup is practically completely evaporated, which should take about 5 minutes.
Set that aside to cool while you work on the crumble.
To make that crumble, combine ghee, sliced almonds, toasted coconut flakes, almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut flour and spices in the bowl of your food processor.
Process on pulse until the mixture is just combined, no more. Send that crumble for a little 15-20 minutes trip to the refrigerator.
While the crumble and apple mixture are chilling, preheat your oven to 375°F and grease a 9” square baking pan with a little bit of ghee or coconut oil and then line it with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang on either side. This simple precaution will allow for easy unmolding later.
Then, with the tip of your fingers, press a little more than half the crumble mixture at the bottom of this prepared pan. You might want to slightly wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
For better and more even looking squares, flatten this bottom layer with a rubber spatula or better yet, a plastic dough scraper if you have one.
Now drop the apple mixture over the base and spread it all the way to the edge.
About that apple mixture, it doesn’t need to be completely cold at this stage Just as long as it’s not so hot as to melt the butter in the bottom layer on contact, you know… Warmish will do the trick.
Oh, and don’t forget to fish out that vanilla pod!
Next, scatter the rest of the crumble mixture right on top of the apples, followed by the maple sugar flakes, if using.
If you can’t find maple sugar flakes, you could use maple sugar instead, or coconut sugar.
Now place these in the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the top gets nice and golden brown and the house is filled with the most delicious sugary apple fragrance.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.
Remove the chilled apple crumble from the pan and cut into 12 squares.
Of course, you *could* eat these warm if you wanted to, but you wouldn’t be able to cut them neatly like this if you put your knife to them before they’d had a chance to completely cool down.
And besides, I find they taste much better cold… even frozen!
For realz, I stuck practically the whole batch in the freezer, in a feeble attempt to keep myself from eating them all too quick. That didn’t work quite so good, as I soon came to realize that the colder they are, the more I like them. And they have this very agreeable, firm chewiness to them after they’ve been in the freezer for a while! Just sayin’, you know.
Feel free to eat yours whichever way you prefer: warm and crumbly, cold and neatly cut or colder and kinda chewy… Either way, they’re delicious!
Apple Crumble Squares
THE APPLE MIXTURE
Additional Topping (optional)
- 2 tbsp pure maple sugar flakes
- Put the ghee and maple syrup into a large skillet set over high heat and bring to a vigorous boil. Let boil for a full minute and then add the apples, cinnamon, salt, vanilla bean (throw the pod in as well, we'll fish it out later) and lime juice; lower the heat slightly and cook until the apples are softened and the maple syrup is practically completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the crumble and process on pulse until the mixture is just combined, no more. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
- With the tip of your fingers, press a little more than half the crumble at the bottom of the prepared pan. You might want to slightly wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers. Then, flatten it with a rubber spatula or better yet, a plastic dough scraper if you have one.
- Now drop the apple mixture over the base (don't forget to remove that vanilla pod!) and spread it all the way to the edge, then scatter the rest of the crumble mixture right on top, followed by the maple flakes, if using.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the top gets nice and golden brown and the house is filled with the most delicious smell.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Remove from the pan and cut into 12 squares.
- Keep refrigerated for up to a week.