I don't know about you, but I crave comfort food when I'm sick, and I've been sick with a bad case of a cold since the weekend. Nothing is appealing to me food wise and I'm lucky to have an amazing husband who has jumped in and prepared most meals for the family. My taste buds aren't functioning and my hunger is pretty much non-existent, but it was Labor Day weekend and with all the kids at home for three days, I knew I had to come up with something that resembled some kind of dessert.
I looked in my fridge for inspiration since a trip to the store was out of the question and found apples. Not enough apples to make a quint-essential all American apple pie, but enough to make this recipe for Apple Pie Bars. I found the recipe in another Cuisine at Home magazine and it sold me right away for its ease of preparation. The crust does double duty as the streusel topping and makes assembling the dish a snap. The recipe calls for Granny Smith apples which are usually my go-to apple for baking anyway. They hold their shape nicely without getting mushy and make for a not too sweet dessert.
Flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon are whisked together in a bowl. Some of that mixture is removed and reserved for the streusel topping. After that, you cut cold butter into the mix before pressing it into a springform pan and baking it for about 15 minutes. Apples are peeled and diced, and then mixed with sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla, and a bit of flour. The apple mix is immediately spread onto the hot crust before being topped with the reserved streusel mix that had melted butter added to it. The bars are then baked for another 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown.
These bars were a huge hit in our home especially when served with a dollop of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. I will have to take my families word on how good they were since I couldn't taste much, but considering how fast they disappeared I would say they were delicious. This recipe is a great alternative if you don't want to go through the hassle of making a pie, and it fits the approaching fall season perfectly!
Apple Pie Bars
(adapted from Cuisine at Home)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch springform pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray.
Combine 2 cups flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and slat for the base and streusel mixtures in a bowl. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a second bowl; set aside for the streusel later.
Cut 6 tablespoons cold butter and milk into the remaining dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingers. Mix until clumps form.
Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan, using a measuring cup to "tamp" down the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set and gold at the edges.
Stir melted butter into the reserved streusel mixture until sandy; set aside.
Toss all ingredients for the filling (apples, sugar, heavy cream, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and salt) together. Arrange over the hot base, pushing apple pieces to the edges of the pan to completely cover the crust.
Sprinkle apples with the streusel topping, and bake until apples are soft and streusel is golden, 30-40 minutes. Cool bars for at least 30 minutes before removing the side of the pan and cutting into wedges. Store bars at room temperature or chill.