When I was little my grandmother always made apple squares and mince meat pie (yes, we’re Irish!) for the holidays. While my taste-buds hadn’t quite developed to the point of appreciating mince meat pie until I was older, I scrambled every year to snag as many apple squares as mom would allow. Something about grandma’s cooking is simply always the best!
When I grew up to have a family of my own, I continued the tradition of making apple squares for our family, soon developing my own version, adding local flavors from the south… and slowly tweaking it towards a healthier, more organic version as I moved towards living a sustainable lifestyle. Creating Black Walnut Apple Spice Squares is truly a family affair, from picking and peeling apples together to gathering and cracking walnuts.
This year, Hodgson Mill encouraged me to take it one step further and create a whole wheat version of our favorite dessert as part of their Have a Grain Holiday Contest. The following recipe is the result of that effort (and my contest submission- crossing fingers!)
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this healthier alternative took my dessert to a whole new level of rich, earthy, delectable goodness. My family and friends agree; the ingredient switch to Hodgson Mill Wheat Flour is a keeper.
I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as we do and have a wonderful, joy-filled grain holiday!
Whole Wheat Black Walnut Apple Spice Squares
1 ¾ c Hodgson Mill Wheat Flour
¾ c unsalted butter, cold
1 c chopped black walnuts
½ c white sugar
½ c brown sugar
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
1 quart of homemade canned apple spice slices (recipe below)
1 quart of canned organic apple pie filling
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease (with butter) the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Combine 1 ½ cups of Hodgson Mill Wheat Flour, white sugar, and ½ cup chopped black walnuts in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until ingredients are well mixed. Cut in ½ cup of cold butter until mix is crumbly (use a pastry/dough blender tool for best results.)
Press crumbed mixture into the bottom of the 9 x 13 baking pan, forming an even layer.
Lay apple slices (or canned organic apple pie filling) across the bottom layer of crust, forming an even layer.
Combine ½ cup Hodgson Mill Wheat Flour, ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. grated orange peel, and ½ cup chopped black walnuts in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until ingredients are well mixed. Cut in ¼ cup of cold butter.
Layer mixture on top of apples, forming a thin, even layer.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes.
Cut into square bars. Serve warm with ice cream, or allow to cool for an additional 45 minutes and cut into squares for serving on a dessert tray or for gifting.
Makes 15 to 20 bars depending upon preferred cut size.
Apple Spice Slices Canning Recipe
This is a simple family apple pie canning recipe that was likely originally discovered in a Ball Canning recipe guide, but has been tweaked over the years to create the perfect filling complement for the Whole Wheat Black Walnut Apple Spice Squares.
24 medium to large size apples, peeled and cored (Fuji
, Braeburn, or Jonathan deliver great results.)
5 c sugar
2 c ClearJel
6 c apple cider (from local farmers market or orchard is desirable) or 6 c organic apple juice
2 cups water
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground clove
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Prepare canning materials for boiling water canning method. Optional: prepare canning materials for freezer method. Refer to your canning guide for suggested storing periods for apple pie filling, which this recipe is similar to.
Slice and core apples. Apple wedges should be about ½ inch thick.
Fill a 6 or 8 quart pot ¾ full with water and bring to a boil. Add one third of apples to the boiling water, remove water, if needed, to prevent overflow. Cook 1 minute. Remove apples from water with a slotted spoon, place into a large bowl.
Repeat process with next one third of sliced apples, and again with the last third. Cover hot apples with a lid or clean towel to keep warm. Empty the boiling water from pot.
In the 6-8 quart pot, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ClearJel. Mix thoroughly. Add apple cider and 2 ½ cups of cold water, stir. Over a medium-high heat, continue stirring until mixture comes to a boil. The mix should begin to thicken.
Add lemon juice and continue stirring for 1 minute. Reduce heat. Add apples and stir until apples are completely covered. Remove from heat.
Follow instructions from your canning guide for boiling water method canning process. Hot apple spice mixture should be poured into quart canning jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Process time is 25 minutes from boil.
OR follow instructions for freezer canning method.
In this case, apple spice mixture should be allowed to cool almost completely prior to ladling into freezer containers and freezing.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Hodgson Mill “Have a Grain Holiday!” Recipe Contest. As such, I have received samples and information from Hodgson Mill. The recipe, opinions, and editorial are solely my own.