Apple Pie Bars combine a rich, buttery shortbread crust with tart apples and a nutty crumble topping for a hand-held version of apple pie that is perfect for everything from potlucks to holiday parties.
I feel like I reached a new level of adulthood yesterday.
While at Home Depot on the hunt for mums in a specific color and size – yes, I am already decorating for fall, judge away – I somehow ended up in the toilet seat aisle.
Well, I kind of know how I ended up there – I was browsing bathroom vanities because ours are falling apart after 4 years.
Gotta love builder grade products. Insert mega eye roll here.
I came across a soft-close toilet seat and decided that I needed to have it, but that’s not necessarily the new level of adulthood part.
Sure a new toilet seat that doesn’t wiggle and get slammed by my 5-year-old is awesome, but guys, I removed the old one and installed the new one myself.
I am sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now because toilet seat installation is not that serious, but I am the most unhandy of people on the planet, so this was quite the Thursday afternoon accomplishment.
In fact as soon as I’m done decorating for fall, I’m thinking of trying my hand at installing some vertical shiplap in my laundry room.
Wait, is shiplap still a thing?
Maybe I should stick with what I’m decent at and that’s making desserts, especially fall desserts like these apple pie bars.
APPLE PIE WITH A TWIST
I’m going through a bit of an apple phase – more specifically an apple pie phase, but not in the traditional sense.
I’m all about the warm and cozy taste and texture of America’s favorite pie, but I’m having fun baking those flavors into other desserts.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a traditional apple pie every now and again, even if it’s in mini version like my Mini Apple Pies. But pie crust is not my favorite thing to work with and honestly, I think some of these other recipes are more fun (and easier) to make.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE PIE BARS
In the case of Apple Pie Bars, pie crust is swapped with a shortbread crust. After mixing the dough together, it gets pressed into the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet – zero chilling or rolling necessary.
The “hardest” part of this recipe is the filling. I use the word “hardest” loosely because if you can cook anything in a pan, then you can make this filling.
Because you want the apples in these Apple Pie Bars to be nice and soft, they need to cook for a bit before the bars go in the oven.
I also nixed a top crust on these bars in favor of a crumble topping. Oats, cinnamon, and pecans make this crumble so good, it might be my favorite part of this recipe.
Although these Apple Pie Bars definitely fit into the dessert category (they’re amazing with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream), we can’t help indulging in them with our morning coffee for a delicious breakfast.
This recipe makes a huge batch of these bars which makes them perfect for potlucks, holiday cookie swaps or holiday parties. You’ll find yourself making them for just about every occasion!
Apple Pie Bars
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 6 pounds Granny Smith apples about 12 apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup water if necessary
For the topping:
- 3 cups quick-cooking oats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
Make the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms.
- Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan creating an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
Make the Filling
- In an extra large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter with 1/2 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet and if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup of water to prevent scorching. Let cool. (I did not need to add any water to my skillet.)
Make the Topping
- In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pecans and press the mixture into clumps.
Assemble and Bake
- Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
- Bars can be stored in at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- I definitely recommend using an Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer for this recipe. You can pick them up at a variety of places such as Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond. They are pretty inexpensive and make the prep work a breeze.