Apple Crumble Bars

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten

Photo by Sue Van Slooten

Fall is Apple Time, when the ever versatile fruits ripen and fill our markets, or if we can go apple picking, our baskets. I happen to be extremely lucky: In my yard is an ancient tree several decades old (estimates are 60-70 years) that produces incredible quantities of apples every year. I don’t treat this tree, just have it pruned occasionally, and it always rewards me with a bounty of delicious apples. I have in turn made pies, crisps, bars, cookies, applesauce, cakes, mincemeat, condiments, etc, to the delight of everyone who tastes these products.

This week I received a new book I had ordered, Barry Parson’s Rock Recipe’s Cookies, and promptly went nuts. Barry is a man after my own heart: He loves food, he loves cookies, and I love his recipes. I have all his books, so no, you cannot get me any for Christmas.You can get the book off Amazon or bookstores. In this recipe that I am about to provide you, I took a recipe of his, melded it with a recipe of mine, and what was originally blueberries, became apple just in time for Thanksgiving and the fall. If you are not up to chopping the apples, if you have any thick applesauce or apple butter, feel free to use it.

Apple Crumble Bars


For the filling:

about 3 lbs. apples, chopped *(see below)
1/3 cup brown sugar (more or less to taste, and the tartness of your apples)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Cider or water to moisten, I prefer the cider


1. Combine all the above ingredients, using just enough cider or water to moisten the bottom of the pot and keep the apples from sticking.

2. Cook over low medium heat util the apples are soft, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

3. After apples have cooked, turn off the heat and let cool. Oh, and your house will smell wonderful right about now!

I used a food mill to process the apples, which eliminated the peeling and coring that normally goes with this kind of recipe. If you have a food mill, run the cooked apples through the mill, and it will produce a nice thick applesauce. 

*If you do not own a food mill, then you should peel and core all the apples, just continue with the cooking as described.

For the cookies:

This is Barry’s part of the recipe.

The Shortbread Base:

3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F.


1. Combine all ingredients, and as Barry suggested, I used a food processor, spin for a short time (the butter should be well cut in),

2. Pat into a greased and parchment lined 9X9 inch pan.

3. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

For the Graham Crumble Topping:

1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut in small cubes


1. Again, cut in the butter well. Barry makes his topping into handfuls of  “crumbles” whereas I put it through the food processor, very quickly.

2. Spread your applesauce over the shortbread base, and sprinkle the topping over the filling.

3. As Barry says, press down lightly and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

4. Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares. Make some tea and enjoy.

References:Parsons, Barry. “Rock Recipes Cookies: A Decade of Decadent Recipes.” St. John’s, Newfoundland: Breakwater Books, 2018.

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