Double-Stuff Fruit Squares

Date squares are a favourite, but sometimes you want something fruitier.  But you don’t want a fruit crisp, you want a square.  Oh, and it’s still snow-covered outside so the availability of local fresh fruit is pretty limited.  Gluten-free would be nice too.  These cover all the bases and no one misses the wheat or the sweet!

Yield: an 8’’x8’’ pan

What you need for the fruit layer:

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups chopped dried dates (Deglett dates are great here, but anything you have will work)
  • 1 cup chopped dried prunes
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (home-canned if you’ve got it)
  • 1 cup filtered water

What you need for the crust/crumble:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely ground (in a small coffee grinder, blender or food processor)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened finely grated coconut
  • 1/3 cup Sucanat (or coco sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground anise seed (optional but recommended)
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened toasted coconut chips (optional)

What you do :

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the blueberries, dates, prunes, applesauce and water to a low simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and cook gently, uncovered, 10-15 minutes.  Mash the contents every once in a while, to break apart the fruit.  The mixture will seem a little thin, don’t worry, it thickens up in the oven.
  3. When the fruit filling is ready, turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. While the fruit is stewing, toss together the rolled oats, cornmeal, ground almonds, arrowroot, Sucanat, ginger and anise seed. Add the oil and work it into the dry ingredients using a fork until coarse crumbs form.  Fold in the coconut chips if using.
  5. Set aside a cup or two (depending on how much top layer you like) of the crust mixture and pour the rest into an 8”x8” baking dish.
  6. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the baking dish using a fork to form a crust. This may take several minutes and it might seem a little loose, don’t worry, the juice from the fruit layer will filter in a bit and help set it into a perfect bottom layer once it cooks.
  7. Spoon the fruit topping over the crust and spread into an even layer.
  8. Spread the reserved crumbs over the fruit layer and press them lightly into the fruit filling.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes at 350F, until the topping is light golden and the filling thick and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

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