Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple pie bars

Is there anything more American than apple pie? Maybe, but apple pie is such a classic dessert, but it can be daunting to bake. The crust can be finicky and end up too dry or too mushy, and the filling can end up running all over the place. I love a good apple pie, but sometimes I just don't have the time to bake one.

Enter these apple pie bars. They are all the flavor of a classic apple pie, but in bar form. You start off with a cookie layer on the bottom, top it with an apple filling and finish it off with a nice crumb topping. Oh, and did I mention that you don't have to make a crust or crimp any edges?

I served these apple pie bars at our annual cookout, and they were a big hit. Our guests commented that they tasted just like apple pie, but it was easier to eat and easier to serve. If you want to share with more friends, feel free to make a double batch.

Apple pie bars
Cookie base
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Apple filling
  • 3 and 1/2 Tablepoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1/4" cubes (about 2 cups) 
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt

Crumb topping
  • 1/2 cup of reserved dough from the cookie base recipe above
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease and/or line a standard 9"x9" square baking pan (an 8"x8" one works too) with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and egg yolk until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour and salt until fully mixed.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough and set aside. You do not need to clean the bowl - you will use it again in a bit so just set it aside.

Transfer the remaining dough to your prepared baking pan and evenly spread it out. Press down on the dough with a spatula or by using your fingers. Bake for 16-22 minutes or until the middle is set and the edges turn a light golden color. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Toss the apples in a bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over the tops and mix.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle this over the apples and toss to coat. Add the apples to the melted butter and bring the mixture to a simmer. Keep cooking until the apple mixture gets thick and syrupy (about 4 minutes). Take off the stove and set aside.

To make the topping, add the reserved dough back into the stand mixer bowl and add the 1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix on medium speed (using the same paddle attachment) until small crumbs form.

Pour the apple mixture over the cooled pie base and spread the apples evenly. Sprinkle on the crumb topping over the apples and bake for 32-37 minutes or until the crumb topping becomes golden in color.

All the bars to cool completely before serving.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x9" pan; about 16 bars

Source: Home...is Where the Cookies Are

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