Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I am writing this on the very first day of autumn. Copenhagen has welcomed this season with classically crisp air and blindingly bright sun. People are stretched out along the banks of the harbour in the afternoon light, soaking in what will be the last blows of summer’s fight. Ugh. Can you feel it?

Last week my family and I were out at our garden. On the cycle back home we stopped by the blackberry bramble that has overtaken a major section of the vacant land nearby. It towers over me, and extends along the bike path for half a block or more, an impenetrable wall of thorns and fruit. Happily there were a few berries left, just enough to pick for a dessert and a handful to snack on with my boys. Languishing in the last morsels of hot sun we felt the seasons shifting ever-so-slightly and celebrated with the ripest and blackest of berries, like summer captured in edible jewels.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
But I got the berries home and suddenly I felt a lot of pressure. Kind of like when you impulse-buy those crazy-looking mushrooms at the farmer’s market and worry that whatever you’re going to be making isn’t “special enough” so you let them sit in your fridge too long until they go bad. Forehead slap. That was not going to happen to my berries. No way. Here was my thought process:
Sarah B, relax.
You like blackberries.
You like crumble.
You make too many crumbles.
You don’t make too many bars.
Crumble bars.
What’s a crumble bar?
Stop asking questions. Let’s do this.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
I proceeded in the best way I knew how, by browsing the internet for ideas. It turns out crumble bars do exist, but I couldn’t find any versions that were all that virtuous. Subbing this for that while keeping things as simple as possible, I came up with an edition that is made with whole foods, totally vegan, and easily made gluten-free. The crust is light and flaky, the filling is rich and bursting with juicy flavours and the crumble topping is crunchy and satisfying. Although I use hazelnuts in mine, you could substitute those with almonds – just leave a few of them really big because biting into a large toasted nut is delicious, especially combined with the oozy and sweet fruit center. Heavenly.
Next year I am definitely going to try these bars with black currants in the early summer months, and maybe raspberries later on.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
Freezing and Cooking: How do they affect nutrients?

Pssst. I have a secret. Sometimes in the off-season, I do something totally crazy. I buy frozen berries.

What is a nutritionist such as myself doing purchasing and even recommending frozen foods to people? For one, I live in Denmark where the availability of fresh food is pretty sad in the winter, obviously. And second I’m a person that does things like everyone else, such as relying on conveniences when need be. I’m okay with that.

But what kind of affect does freezing have on foods, say blackberries for instance? You’d be surprised, and likely thrilled to learn, that freezing does not completely spoil the vitamins and minerals in food. In fact, you’re looking at a mere 10-15% nutrient loss across the board. Vitamin C is the one vitamin that is most likely to dissipate, as once the fruit or veggie has been plucked from its source, vitamin C levels start to decline almost immediately. Luckily, vitamin C is the single more common and easily obtained vitamin in nature, and you can make up for that loss somewhere else in your day.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 
And what about cooking? This is a little more complicated, as it varies according to the specific nutrient in question and the type of cooking method. Fat soluble vitamins (D, E, K) are not destroyed by heat alone, and vitamin A is relatively stable. The B-vitamins are also heat stable, except for panthotenic acid (B5). Folate breaks down at very high temperatures. Vitamin C is the nutrient that takes the biggest hit by far, as it is one of the most delicate vitamins in nature. It is not only destroyed by heat, but also exposure to air and light. It is also water-soluble, meaning that steaming something containing vitamin C will be surely destroy it.

As a general rule, minerals are very heat stable, especially when using cooking methods that do not employ water, like roasting or baking – there is almost no loss whatsoever.

If you are steaming, boiling, braising, or blanching foods, both vitamins and minerals will leach out into the water. To preserve these precious nutrients, save the broth to drink, or freeze it for later use in a soup or stew. I use it to puree my baby’s food. He’ll never know his millet porridge was cooked with broccoli water!

Since this blog is read the world over, there will of course be a few of you out there who can’t get themselves to a blackberry bramble, simply because it isn’t the right season. No worries. Find a grocer with organic frozen blackberries and go to town. You should not wait to make these. Seriously.

Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble Bars | My New Roots
 

91 comments

  1. Blaire

    Hi there!
    I made this but added a banana I needed to use. I put them in muffin tins because I halved the recipe and it didn’t fill up my pan. Question: they were DELICIOUS but did not at all keep their shape. Did anyone have this problems with the original bar structure? Any thoughts?

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  5. Micaela

    I cant wait to make this for Mother’s Day tomorrow and top it off with some coconut milk ice cream!!

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  7. Kristen

    I took a look at the boxed (albeit organic) cereal bars I was eating for breakfast every morning and realized they were full of stuff that I wasn’t happy about. So I searched around for a healthier alternative that I could make at home. I’m a huge fan of Sarah’s website and have made several recipes from here (Life Changing Loaf, Raw Brownies, Nut Butter Cups – to name a few) so I knew this would turn out well. I’ve been using frozen organic berries (the latest batch are raspberry/blueberry) and they have been divine. I actually look forward to eating my “bar” every morning now and take the time to savor each bite.

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  9. Erin

    Sarah (and MNR readers!)

    How do you think fresh cranberries would be in this recipe? Or perhaps a combination of cranberries and apples/pears? Would you cook the cranberries down in a saucepan before adding? Do you think I would need to add more sugar to balance the tartness?

    Thank you for sharing your recipes with us, Sarah!

  10. rachel

    This looks delish. I was wondering if I can use cashew nuts instead? Lately, I have been addicted to nuts. Not that I am beginning to transform into an elephant, but I just love nuts.

  11. Caroline

    I love these bar so much! I’ve struggled with creating a bar without a lot of fat. Love how little you’ve had to use in these. Looking forward to making them!

  12. Besma

    Hi Sarah,

    Again, amazing mouth-watering photography… and I’m down for crumble bars if you are! Gonna give these a go this weekend. Thanks for the recipe!

    Besma (www.curiouslyconscious.com)

  13. Crystine

    First off, wonderful website and recipes! I always love seeing all the new recipes and photos.
    I would like to mention that for this recipe, unless you like your crisps very tart, it would be a good idea to either add more sweetener to the berries (1/2 cup or so unless your berries are super sweet to begin with) or use apples, plums, nectarines, etc in place of half the berries. Adding some extra oil to the crust may also help if yours is a bit too dry.
    My family did like this (we used black and blue berries) but our son remarked on the intense sour-ness!

  14. julie Lanham

    Dear Sarah, how wonderful to get a boost in our daily menus from you! Its pretty exciting to log on and find a brand new recipe And great informative and educational info. I wondered if it were at all possible to have a little menu plan? yours sincerely Jules Lanham :)

  15. Lieke

    Loved this! Wasn’t as crunchy as i’d hoped, but still delicious! It was a little bit too salty and not tart enough or my liking, so I’ll adjust a few things next time! Thanks for this awesome recipe Sarah!

  16. Justine

    Just made this with bloobs instead of blackberries, so delicious. I used an untoasted muesli with cinnamon and nuts instead of plain rolled oats (that’s all I had? Go figure?) and literally just spread the berries on the base and grated over some lemon zest. The base is surprisingly chewy and delicious, made from wholesome ingredients! Am down in Australia and will be making this all summer long as different fruits and berries come into season. With the muesli and less maple this would be a glorious slow Sunday breakfast. Thank-you!

  17. kendra

    I freeze berries as they come into season- we grew strawberries, raspberries and blackberries this year. I picked blueberries and apples at local farms. Ive frozen lbs and lbs to have throughout the winter, this way I know how they’re sourced and everything is organic :)

  18. Ari

    Hi Sarah! Love this way of using blackberries – I’ll definitely try this recipe out!
    I was wondering if you could please make a blog post about acai bowls – they seem to be the new breakfast trend and I have been seeing them all over the place lately, but I’d still like to know the basics on what this “superfruit” is, exactly. Where does it come from? What are the great health benefits? What different varieties are there? How can you make your own at home? What are the different ways of eating it?
    Thanks so much! LOVE your blog , it is always the best source of comfort and advice for me :)

  19. Angela | Great Body & Skin

    Hello lady, what a lovely recipe again and amazing images.

    I was wondering about those whole rolled oats: are those the same as steel cut oats?

    Furthermore: I eat gluten free. What I understood is that oats are naturally gluten free. They may contain gluten when processed in a factory that also processes gluten containing grains (like wheat i.e.).

    Can you tell me what is right?

    Thanks in advance! Looking forward to new recipes.

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  21. Kendall

    I am slowly introducing more plant based foods to my diet after years of thinking I could eat and do what I want and my body would just go with it. I stumbled onto your website via a post on I Quit Sugar’s instagram and am now totally obsessed with it, love the way you write, your recipes, i have now started from the start of your blog posts (all 7 years worth) and reading my way through. AND i’ve just pre-ordered your recipe book. Keep up the great work :)

  22. Marijke Van Dornick

    I have just discovered your blog, and I have to say that your pictures, your recipes, and your whole lifestyle is truly idyllic and inspirational. I’m going to spend the rest of the evening going through your wonderful site. Thank you so much!

    • Retete Noi

      I’ve yet to go blackberry picking and getting my fingers and hands all covered with the juices :) Love the sound of this chunky crumble, more interesting than a plain crumble topping. Thank you!

  23. Liz

    I made these today with frozen sweet dark cherries and they are delicious. The lemon zest really lifts the flavours. I am soooo popular with himself right now! Thanks Sarah x

  24. Olivia

    This looks great. I personally LOVE the combination of blueberries and hazelnuts, and will definitely be trying this with that variation. Thank you for the beautiful recipe.

  25. Dana Greyson aka "Galley Wench Tales"

    Ohhhh Sarah, thank you for a gluten-free hand-food recipe my celiac husband will love as much as the (non-GF) berry cobbler I used to make. Pssst. If you’re lucky enough to able to acquire some huckleberries to add to the mix – go for it. I’ve picked them and I’ve paid $10/lb for them and they are worth every penny.

    • Svenja

      I just gave the apple version a try (leaving out the starch in the filling)…they came out quite dry (still delicious;). Next time I would either chop the apples even smaller or puree have of them, mix with the remaining apples and then spread on the crust.

  26. Moira

    Interesting to read your thought processes while developing your blackberry hazelnut crumble bars – and glad too to note that you use frozen fruit – that not too much goodness is lost in the freezing process – will definitely try this recipe as I give my teenage son cereal bars for school – yours are far more nutritious! Thank you!

  27. Ruby

    Hi Sarah. Beautiful pics and beautiful prose – felt like I was right there with you amongst the brambles! A quick question: what, exactly, is applesauce? I see it in a lot of northern hemisphere recipes but I’m from New Zealand and am not familar with it. Is it just cooked apple puree? Or is it sweetened? Anyone who can help, please let me know – I am keen to make this ASAP! x Ruby

    • Lindsay

      I’m from Australia and have the same question! I found one but it had loads of rubbish in it. Is there a substitute or can I make my own?!

      • Svenja

        Its usually sweetened and cooked apple puree, but I just substitued it with apple puree and it worked fine!

    • Ruth Dickmann

      Dear Ruby,
      We have lots of applesauce here in the US. It is in its simplest form cooked apple puree. You can easily make your own and customize it to taste. My mother would core and slice apples, cook them till soft, and then use a blender to puree them skins and all. You can also peel the apples and some friends of mine like to add a little sugar and cinnamon. I personally dislike sweetened applesauce – apples are sweet enough!
      Hope this helps and happy baking!
      Ruth

  28. csj

    Your suggestion to use frozen fruit inspired me to whip up a batch of fruit spread, using fresh farmer’s market plums with a bag of frozen blueberries, a touch of water and lemon juice, and one TB of organic brown sugar. So good! Why did I never think of frozen fruit for jam before?

  29. alwayshungry

    I love blackberries.
    But i don’t have any.
    That’s not going to stop me.
    I get yummy bars tonight.
    Thanks for the info about cooking and freezing!!
    I would loooooooove to have a glimps of the foods you are making for your little one!
    So far I have not maneged to get mine to eat many whole grains.
    And I do try.
    Often.

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  31. Maritza

    Hi Sarah. it is always a delight to read your post. Amazing recipe with easy to find ingredients. Thanks again for sharing delicious recipes.

  32. Nicola Galloway

    Blackberries are the most understated berry. I have planted all kinds of berries in our garden and it’s the thorn-less blackberries that truth be told I wasn’t overly excited about when I planted them, that are the winner by far. We harvest about 10kg from three bushes each year to stock the freezer to add to smoothies and now make this crumble bar! Thanks for the info about freezing and cooking and nutrient loss, always great to be reminded.

  33. Adrianne

    Thank you for sharing! We picked a bunch of berries at the farm this past summer and have a couple of bags left in the freezer. I know just what to do with them!

  34. Sarah

    I made these this afternoon with local, organic raspberries I froze when they were in season this summer. It was a perfect dessert after a red lentil chilli. Your Canadian roots shine through with the use of maple syrup in your beautiful recipes ;)

  35. Elenore

    .. I can see + hear someone was in the zone ;) Oh I just love all of it, honey! You are so creative, inspiring and immensely talented and wise! ps. miss you like crazy all the time. See you soon :)

    • nettelie

      You two are adorable <3

      Sarah, THANK YOU once again for sharing all your wisdom. I'm going to bake these babies this afternoon. Unfortunately, blackberry season is over in The Netherlands (it actually was two months ago – Oh, hello global warming), so I'm going to check out the freezer section at the organic grocer. Yay!

  36. Renee H.

    These are like a bar version of my single serving 2 minute crumble! I could eat this everyday. I love that you scavenged your own berries. I’m looking forward to all the apple self-picking ventures this fall!

  37. Denby

    What are your thoughts on phytic acid? I usually boil my oats for about a minute, let them cool, then carry on with whatever I’m using them for. Should that work with this recipe?I’ve never made a crumble before!

  38. emily

    another delish nutrish dish i can’t wait to try. really enjoy your personal poetic prose riddled throughout also ;) stay sweet!

  39. Ann-Louise

    Yup. It’s not easy living in freezing Scandanavia. I also use frozen berries a lot and it’s a relief to hear that most of the nutrients are kept intact. Thanks for the delicious recipe which will come in handy.

  40. Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

    I love your explanation about vitamins and the different cooking and processing methods. It’s something I often think about in my daily life, and especially at these harvest days. Do you have a recommendation for preserving carrots that will help keep their nutrients?

  41. Chlo

    beautiful, it’s spring here in New Zealand so I will tuck this one away for a few months but plan to try an apricot version when the stone fruit ripens. Thank you

  42. Liz

    These look delicious. We have tons of blackberries growing wild in the PNW and I love picking them until my fingers are sore. I usually freeze some away for the winter. Glad to know the frozen ones are still good for me!

  43. Mary Fit and Fed

    Plenty of great big Himalayan blackberry bushes in my part of the world, in fact they are an invasive weed! In our old neighborhood my boys and I used to pick them every summer, thanks for reminding me of that. The crumble bars looks delicious, how could they not be with blackberries, hazelnuts, and just a touch of maple syrup for sweetening?

  44. Samantha

    These look so amazing! I’ve had a hard time finding vegan dessert recipes that are actually tasty…and these are definitely sure to do the trick! Thanks for sharing!
    ~ Samantha
    samsamcherie.blogspot.com

  45. Helen Tlston

    I love your recipe for blackberry bars. Just today I picked some blackberries and made a pie which was a combination of cooking apples (gift from neighbour) and my blackberries. Like you said they are so delicious this time of year.
    Your images inspire
    Helen

  46. Mike

    Picking blackberries is such a fun and therapeutic activity. I love doing it.
    And there’s just so much one can do with blackberries: salads, smoothies or served alongside cheeses. But in pies, muffins, or bars that’s where I think blackberries shine. These bars look absolutely amazing Sarah. What a great recipe!

  47. Mariela

    This looks so delicious, and for a change, no nuts! I can eat it, just like it is, no subs required. Hallelujah! Sweet, sweet, crumble bar goddesses, thank you!

  48. Heather

    Gorgeous Sarah. Just what I need for an end of season treat. I have loads of blackberries in the freezer from the summer’s harvest. Looking forward to making this recipe. Hugs.

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