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 reworking those flavors into other desserts. First gorgeous Apple Pie Muffins, then Homemade Apple Butter and now these lovely Apple Pie Bars.

We are lucky enough to have an amazing apple orchard just minutes from our house. Nestled in front of the orchard is a charming general store filled with smells of cider and freshly baked apple pie. The store also sells a terrific assortment of pantry items like country jams, jellies, syrups and also a variety of locally grown produce.

I may have picked up half a bushel of Granny Smith apples from the orchard on a whim – and I needed to find a plan fast. Having been enlisted to bake a dessert for a staff luncheon, I knew sweet Fall flavors in abundance would work well, but I also needed a recipe with a yield large enough to feed a room full of sweet-toothed coworkers. After a brief Google search, I came across this recipe for Apple Pie Bars and it is simply perfect.

Apple Pie Bars start with a rich, buttery shortbread crust that is topped with a layer of tart apples that are beautifully accentuated by a perfect blend of autumnal spices. To make these already incredible bars even better, a layer of sweet and nutty crumble adds just the right amount of crunch.

Although these Apple Pie Bars definitely fit into the dessert category, we couldn’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.

Apple Pie Bars

Ingredients:


For the Crust



3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt



For the Filling



6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup water, if necessary



For the Topping



3 cups quick-cooking oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

3/4 cup chopped pecans


Directions:


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.


Notes:

- 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.


From Food and Wine Magazine


All images and text ©

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