Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Pie Bars

     It's still summer, but I'm already craving the fall flavors.  The cinnamon, nutmeg, and of course, the fresh, crisp, perfect apples. 

      Sadly, apple season isn't quite here yet.  I know because my mom hasn't brought home any boxes from the farmer's market, and I haven't been eating my wonderful "apple a day." And my mom isn't making her "famous" apple pie every weekend to get rid of all the apples that we haven't managed to eat.  

      Still, my sister made me make these for her and her boyfriend a while ago, because apple pies just can't be limited to apple season.  

       Apple pie has always been my favorite.  If you can believe, I used to not like pie, but then apple pie finally changed my mind.  As I said, my mom makes apple pie frequently.  Her pie consists of apples that have been sitting in the fridge for a while, cut thick, and a store-bought crust which she always has difficulty rolling out.  It's not like those fancy double-lattice, two-different-kinds-of-apples pies, but it's delicious in it's own way.   Inspired, I made these simple but ever-so-delicious apple pie bars.

     In short, buttery shortbread crust+ gooey apple pie filling + crumbly oat topping = pass me a shovel, please.  The great thing about this formula (you know, besides the crumb topping and shortbread and apple parts) is that you can substitute any kind of fruit pie filling in place of the apples.  

     How are you preparing for fall?

Apple Pie Bars

makes one 9x13" pan (around) 18 squares


For the shortbread crust:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the apple pie filling:
1 cup water
1 Tbsp apple juice, apple cider, or lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 cups apples (I used Granny Smith), cored, peeled, and chopped

For the crumb topping:
3/4 cup walnuts
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 unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled


  1. Make the shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350*F.  Cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Blend in the flour and baking powder. Pat into a 9x13" glass dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. Let cool.
  2. Make the apple pie filling: While the crust is baking, combine water, juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until it boils. Cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and apples.  Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Make the crumb topping: Toast the walnuts at 350*F for 2-8 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Blend in the butter with your fingertips, until the mixture is coarse and has clumps the size of peas.  Chop the walnuts and stir into the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Assemble and bake: Preheat oven to 375*F. Pour and smooth the apple pie filling over the shortbread.  Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top.  Bake for about half an hour, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Let cool to room temperature and then cut into squares. 

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