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Friday, January 4, 2013

Apple Raisin Bars--with a Mincemeat Variation

 

Christmas cookies are a distant memory, the Valentine's day chocolate frenzy is over, and the lighter fruit desserts of Easter and early spring are weeks away. So what might be a desert to serve for a late winter/early spring potluck or dinner with friends?

These soft and spicy bars could be a good accompaniment to a hearty soup and bread supper. Not too heavy but satisfying to anyone with a craving for a sweet ending to the meal.

But mincemeat? Really?

Mincemeat is not quite in the category of fruitcake or black licorice (you either love it or hate it), but it does seem to evoke strong preferences for many. If you are someone who really loves the flavor, the cost of this ingredient can be prohibitive; perhaps that is why it seems to have become a feature item only around the winter holidays.

Some time ago, I posted a recipe here for http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2012/10/green-tomato-mincemeat.html. While this is much less expensive than purchased mince meat, you need a source of lots of green tomatoes (along with a fair amount of time) to make a batch. Given the high sugar and acid content of the mix does allow you to make a large batch to have ready in the freezer for pies and recipes like this. Still...

Because of the cost of prepared mincemeat, and the likelihood that you won't be making your own green tomato mincemeat, at least at this season, I have adjusted the original recipe by deveoping a spiced apple and raisin filling that closely approximates the spicy blend and fruity consistency that "real" mincemeat provides.

And if you still want to make mincemeat bars, I've included a variation that returns you to the original recipe.

Apple and Raisin Bars

1/2 c butter, softened
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 c quick rolled oats--not instant

Apple Raisin Filling
3/4 c chopped apples, pressed firmly into the measuring cup1/3 c raisins (chop if you want to duplicate the texture of mincemeat)
1/2 to 1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
2 T sugar

1. Prepare the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a large microwave save bowl and microwave for about 3 minutes, until the apples are fully softened. Allow to cool slightly before spreading.
2.  Cream together the butter, oil, and sugars.

3.  Sift together and add the flour and baking soda. Stir into the creamed mixture and blend well with a fork.

4.  Stir in the oats and blend with a fork until evenly crumbly.

5.  Oil a 7 X 11 (or 9 X 9) inch pan well.  Pat about half of the crumb mixture into the pan, pressing down firmly. Make sure the bottom is evenly covered.


6.  Spread the Apple Raisin Filling evenly over the crust.

7.  Drop the remaining crumble mixture over the top of the fruit mixture and then, using your fingers, spread it as evenly as possible. I like to place a piece of waxed paper over the top after the initial spreading and then press gently but firmly to form a crust rather than just a crumble topping.

8.  Bake at 375 degrees for 28 to 34 minutes, until the top is golden and the filling is slightly bubbly.

9.  Cool in pan before cutting. If desired, drizzle a few lines of powdered sugar icing over the top before cutting. 



Variation: Mincemeat Bars
Prepare the recipe as above, substituting 1 c green tomato or regular mincemeat for the Apple Raisin Filling. If using condensed mincemeat,  prepare according to package instructions.


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