Apple Crumble / Date Squares Mix and Match: #86 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

The crumble topping in this recipe is my Grandma’s creation. We couldn’t decide whether to use it for apple crumble or date squares, so we whipped up a double batch of topping and made both desserts! You could also use other fruit like peaches or pears on the bottom if you prefer.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($14.50 total for both desserts)

1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp butter – $4.19
2 cups + 1/4 cup brown sugar – $1.17
3 cups + 2 tbsp flour – $0.51
3 1/2 cups rolled oats – $0.42
2 tsp baking soda – $0.03
1 tsp salt – $0.05
1 1/2 to 2 cups pitted dates – $4.99
5 or 6 honeycrisp or other tart apples, thinly sliced – $2.00
1 cup + 3 tbsp water – free
1/2 tsp vanilla – $0.10
1 tsp cinnamon – $0.60


1. Prepare the bases:

For the dates, in a small pot, boil the dates and 1 cup water together, stirring frequently to break down the dates. Keep it bubbling over medium heat and stirring until the dates make a fairly dry paste.

For the apples, in a small bowl, mix together 3 tbsp of melted butter, 2 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp water, vanilla, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and cinnamon. Coat the thinly sliced apples in the sauce, then put the coated apples in the bottom of a buttered 9×13″ baking dish.

Then prepare the topping: mix the remaining butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. You will need to use your hands to make it into a well-combined, crumbly texture.

2. For the date squares, press a base of the oatmeal mixture (about 2-3 cups) into a buttered 8×8″ baking dish, then spread the date mixture on top. Cover this with another layer (about 1 1/4 cups) of the topping, sprinkling the crumbs over the top. Use the rest of the crumb mixture to cover the apples.

3. Bake both dishes at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove the dates after this and let the apple crumble cook for another 15 minutes, until the topping is golden and the apple filling is tender when you poke it with a knife. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting into it, if you can wait! Serve with vanilla ice cream or on its own, for snacks or dessert.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

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