Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Harvest Fruit Bars

I love a good bakery.  Sadly there isn’t one in the little town I live in.  There are a couple of great bakeries in the next town over.  My kids know that anytime we go to the nursery to get seeds or fertilizer that we can stop and buy a treat at Great Harvest Bakery.   My kids always choose the mint chocolate chip cookies, but Great Harvest has a variety of delightful baked goods.   One of the most beautiful is the Fruit Bars.   Fruit Bars have a delicious cookie crust and are topped with fruit.   
They always look amazing. 

I have been looking for a recipe for Great Harvest Fruit Bars and I found that the actual recipe from Great Harvest is a closely guarded secret.  But they do have to publish the Nutrition facts which contain a list of ingredients. 

So what is in the magical Fruit Bars?  Brown Sugar, Fresh Ground 100% Whole Wheat Flour, Blueberries, Marionberries, Butter, Raspberries, Rolled Oats, Coconut, Eggs, Water, Baking Soda, and Baking Powder.

They also have a 450 calories each.  That is pretty intense for a fruity dessert.   I decided my fruit bars were not going to have quite so many calories.  To reduce the calories I substituted applesauce for a lot of the fat in the recipe.  To be clear even with the reduced fat these are still a “sometimes” food.

In baking it is pretty common to substitute applesauce for fat.  It is a pretty straight forward switch.  Replace half the amount of butter in your recipe with plain unsweetened applesauce; if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and ½ cup of apple sauce.  If you don’t mind a denser moister product you can replace all the butter with applesauce. 

I’ve been doing this for years but I never loved having just a little bit of applesauce hanging around in the fridge after I used part of the container for baking.  Enter dehydrated apples sauce.   Dehydrated apples sauce is tiny bits of apples, they are approximately the size of kosher salt, and when mixed with water they rehydrate into a chunky apple sauce.   So how do I do it?

How to substitute dehydrate apple sauce 
for butter in baked goods:

For 1 cup applesauce:  1 cup dehydrated apples sauce + 1 cup hot water. 
Combine and then let sit until water is absorbed.
Use to replace ½ the butter (or if your daring all the butter) in baked goods recipes.  

Great Harvest Fruit Bars (Lower Fat)
½ cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Apple Sauce, plain unsweetened.  (I use ½ dehydrated applesauce rehydrated in ½ cup hot water)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cups rolled oat
1 cup or more frozen fruit (cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, black berries, peaches, etc.)

 *Note if you want you can use fresh fruit or Freeze Dried Fruit.   But know that the frozen fruit releases a lot of moisture as it cooks and makes the bars very moist. Whatever fruit you use be sure to use moist plump fruit.  If using freeze dried fruit rehydrate completely and add to the bars while still quite damp.

1.     Combine butter, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla and eggs.  Mix to combine.
2.     Add remaining ingredients, mix until combined.   The dough will be thick like cookie dough.
3.     Add ¾ of dough to an  8 x 8 pan. Pressing dough dough into the pan.  Sprinkle frozen fruit on the top and the sprinkle the remaining dough on top of that.  

4.     Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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