September is the beginning of apple picking season here in New England – and as part of that, I always dig out a few of my favorite apple recipes including this recipe for Apple Harvest Squares!
These apple harvest squares are rich and delicious thanks to three sweet layers that make up this baked taste of fall. A buttery cookie bottom layer is topped with slices of sweet, fresh apples that have been sprinkled with lemon juice – the perfect tart counterbalance to the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients – then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Finally a top layer of chopped walnuts, flaked coconut, and vanilla complete this wonderful dessert. These apple harvest squares are like a wonderful apple pie – but in the form of a bar cookie! (They are soooo good!)
This recipe was adapted from one originally printed in The Boston Globe several years ago as part of a collection of recipes gathered from some favorite Boston-area apple orchards. This Apple Harvest Squares recipe is attributed to Lori Stephenson, Farm Store Manager at Bolton Spring Farm, who recommends making these squares with Cortland apples, or any other type of apple that stays firm when cooked.
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted chilled butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 2-3 large apples)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- 1⅓ cups flaked coconut
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with pan spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, ⅓ cup sugar, and salt. Pulse once quickly to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse again until the butter is fully incorporated and you have a fine, dry crumb mixture.
- Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. (Don’t worry about the crumbs looking too dry in the pan – it will bind together as it bakes.)
- In a bowl, combine the apple slices and lemon juice and stir to combine. Arrange the apple slices in rows on top of the crumb mixture. Sprinkle the apples with any remaining lemon juice left in the mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine ⅓ cup sugar with the cinnamon. Mix well and then sprinkle the mixture over the apple slices.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the pan is in the oven, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the remaining ⅓ cup sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, walnuts and coconut until well combined. Spoon over the partially baked apple crumb mixture and spread as evenly as possible.
- Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly, then cut into squares while still warm. Allow to cool completely before serving.
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