These apple date crumb bars show off the seasonal fall fruit in the best way possible. The fall flavor highlights the fresh apples, while the dates add a touch of sweetness.
As much as I hate to admit it, summer is officially over. Stone fruit is off the shelves and has quickly been replaced with so many apples! With the change in the season, I quickly transitioned some of my favorite summer desserts into fall treats, starting with these apple date crumb bars.
Apple Date Crumb Bar Recipe
Over the summer I shared this recipe for peach and cherry cobbler bars. To give it a fall twist, I swapped out the peaches and cherries for apples and dates. It's the perfect seasonal swap for this decadent bar.
Along with the change in the filling, I loaded up on the fall spices. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are mixed into the fruit filling to make this dessert even more seasonal. The spices are also thrown into the shortbread crust bringing the flavors full circle.
Why I Love These Apple Date Crumb Bars
- Full of Fall Flavor - Warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves make these bars a great fall treat.
- Uses Seasonal Ingredients - Uses apples and dates at their peak to make the bars taste even better.
- Simple To Make - The recipe is simple to follow and doesn't take long in the oven to cook.
Ingredients To Make Apple Date Crumb Bars
See below for all the details on what you'll need to make the full recipe.
- Apples - any apple will do but Gala and Granny Smith are my preferred go-to.
- Dates - make sure all the pits are removed before chopping up the dates.
- All-purpose flour - for both the shortbread and the crumbs.
- Lemon juice - adds in a nice touch of brightness.
- Brown sugar - Gives a deep sweetness to the crumbs.
How To Make Apple Date Crumb Bars
- Prepare. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare an 8x8 pan with butter or parchment. Set to the side.
- Brown the butter. In a saucepan, melt the butter until it browns. Set in the freezer to cool and firm up when done.
- Make the shortbread crust. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the butter and the egg. Mix until the crust has a sandy texture.
- Prep the fruit. Chop up the fruit and add the lemon juice and zest. Set to the side.
- Make the crumbs. Combine all of the ingredients to make the crumbs. Use a fork to mix together.
- Assemble the bars. Add the shortbread crust to the prepared pan and press down for a flat layer. Add the fruit on top, followed by the crumbs, spreading out evenly.
- Bake the apple date bars. Bake the bars for 45-55 minutes, the fruit will bubble when it is done. Let cool completely before cutting.
Make-Ahead and Storage Recommendations
The bars are best made fresh due to the apples and dates in them. If needed, the bars could be made one or two days ahead of time. Keep them in the pan until needed and warm up when ready to serve.
Tips and Variations
- Swaps - Don't love dates? Keep them out and load up on the apples.
- Keep it light - Don't overload on the fruit, even if you love apples. Too much fruit will make the bars too soggy.
- Seasonal Fruit - Switch up these bars and go with whatever seasonal fruit is available. Cherries, peaches, and blueberries are just a few ideas for seasonal swaps.
While you can freeze the bars, they won't taste as good when warmed up. The texture of the bars will change in the freezer.
Any kind of apple will work for these apple date bars. When baking, I tend to choose Granny Smith or Gala, or a mix to balance out the sweetness and tartness.
Apple Date Crumb Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
Apple Date Filling
- 2-3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 12-15 medjool dates, chopped
- the zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup, plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ cup melted butter
- Set the oven to 350°. Prepare an 8x8 (or 9x13) inch baking dish. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter until brown. In order to keep the butter from burning, keep the temperature around medium/low. Once the butter is melted, it will start to foam. At this stage, make sure you are keeping an eye on the butter and giving it a consistent stir. After the foam, the butter will turn a golden color and then turn brown. Once the butter has a nutty smell, it is ready and can be taken off the heat. Be careful during the last step as it can go from brown to burnt real fast. Once cool, transfer the butter to a bowl and place in the freezer so it can solidify.
- While the butter is in the freezer, make the shortbread. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Once the butter is ready, add the butter and the egg into the flour mixture and combine using a pastry blender or your fingers. You want the pieces to be crumbly, but mixed. The flour mixture should have a sandy texture when done.
- Next, cut the fruit and place in a medium bowl with the lemon zest and juice. Set aside to let the fruit marinade. You can sprinkle some cinnamon on the fruit if wanted.
- Next, make the crumb topping. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix with a fork until crumbs start to form.
- Take the shortbread mixture and firmly press it into the prepared pan. Try to get an even layer across so the bars will sit flat.
- Once the shortbread is ready, place the fruit on top, spreading it out evenly. Follow behind with the crumb topping.
- Place the dish in the oven and let bake for 45-55 minutes. The bars will be done when the fruit is leaking into the top layer and the crumbs have a golden brown tint.
- Let the bars cool completely before cutting.
- The bars will be best eaten fresh and should last 3-4 days in an air-tight container.