Sometimes you need a lot of treats. Maybe you are having a big party or have a weekend’s worth of events coming up and want to bring something to each one. Or perhaps you are incredibly well-organized and want to stock your freezer full for the family that is coming over the holidays, plus still have something to give to your kids’ teachers.
If any of the above fits you, I would advise you to make these Apple Pie Bars. If you like the look of them but don’t know what you would do with 48 of them, I would not advise you to make them. I made them for last weekend’s yoga retreat and I only brought about half of them and then only about half of them got eaten. I felt like everywhere I looked in my life there were apple pie bars. They were like little bunnies, just multiplying and multiplying.
This is not to take anything away from what is a really lovely treat. It’s really like a slice of apple pie but in pick-up-and-eat bar form. Aside from the task of peeling and slicing 12 apples, it’s not a lot of work for a lot of bars. I didn’t freeze mine, but the recipe says you can and wouldn’t it be nice to have a big batch to pull from now and then? The recipe also says you can make them up to four days ahead and keep them at room temperature but I will tell you that the crust gets a little soggy after a day or two. No flavor is compromised, just not as crisp.
One Year Ago: Zucchini Soup
Apple Pie Bars
Adapted from Food and Wine
Makes 48 large bars
Whenever I bake with apples, I almost always use Granny Smith. They are readily available and while they are not what I would choose to eat out of hand, they are wonderful for baking. I like that they keep their structure more than other apples (i.e. don’t become mush) and I also like that they are on the tart side. To me, apple desserts should have some play on sweet and sour.
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds) – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup water, as necessary
3/4 cup walnuts
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, 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 and 1/2 inch up the side in 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.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/2 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. 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 add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching.
3. Make the topping. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
4. 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.
Make ahead: The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for a month.