Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple Crumb Bars

This summer, I stumbled upon a recipe for blueberry crumb bars. Little did I know, they would become a problem. A problem as in, I felt the need to make a double batch the second time I made them, because I knew that I was probably going to eat all of one batch by myself.

The blueberry bars were so good that they became known by the code name 'crack.' As in, "Hey, I'm making some crack. I'll bring some over." And then blueberry season was a thing of the past, and I had frozen no berries; blueberry bars would have to wait until next June.

However, inspiration struck during a standard 5 a.m. bout of insomnia--how about some apple crumb bars?

The resulting bars are delicious and seasonally satisfying, but as a friend said, they're 'crack-like,' as in not-quite-crack. I think they're worth making, though, and it may even be a good thing that they're just super-delicious, as opposed to insanely delicious.

Apple Crumb Bars
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced or chopped almonds
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 Fuji apple
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple butter (made with no added sugar)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Add flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor and process until combined, about 3 seconds. Add the butter and pulse (about 5 times) until pea-size lumps are all that remain of the butter. Transfer to a large bowl and add the oats, stir to combine.

Transfer 2 cups of this mixture to another bowl, and stir in the almonds. Set aside.

Press the almond-less crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden and just firm to touch, about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

While the crust cooks and cools, peel and core the apples. Cut them into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Place the slices in a large bowl and toss them with the lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger.

When the crust has cooled a bit, spread the apple butter over the top; it will be a rather thin coating. Fan the apple slices out in an overlapping pattern along one long side of the pan. Lay out another line of slices next to the first one, and continue to do this until the pan is full. You're basically laying out the slices the way you would lay out potato slices for a potato gratin, but working in the other direction. It may seem a bit fussy to do it this way, but if the apples are just dumped into the pan, they will not cook properly.

Spread the almond crumb topping over the apples. Cover with foil and cook 55 minutes in the center of the oven. Remove the foil and cook 10 more minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the apples are very tender and just starting to bubble.

Allow to cool, and cut into bar shapes to serve. This dessert is generally better the day after it's made, and keeps well for about 3 days.

No comments: