Monday, September 22, 2014

brown butter apple pie bars.

I don't need to tell you that only an insane person decides to make brown butter apple pie bars when they are less then 2 months out from their wedding.   (Because fitting into your wedding dress is overrated, am I right?)

Now that we've discussed my current state of mind, let's discuss how these bars came to be.  

Apple pie has been on the brain for a couple of weeks now.  It started when we went apple picking and from there I began scouring cookbooks and the internet for the apple pie recipe.  During this obsessive search I realized that while pie is AWESOME it's not easy to share - How do you slice it to bring in for coworkers?  What do you do if not everyone has plates?  I knew if I was going to make a pie, I needed to make a pie that I could share. 

(While I am insane, I am not completely illogical.  Only an illogical person would keep an entire pie in their fridge with less then 2 months to their wedding.)

These bars are a result of necessity but they also came about because I am just really in love with hand-held portable desserts as of late since it's fun is to offer people things like "apple pie bars" . Tyler commented that these are is if an apple pie and apple crisp had a baby and I find this description to be rather apt.  A brown butter shortbread base gives way to layers of cinnamon spiced apple slices.  And the topping? That's a generous layer of strussel deliciousness.  Are these rich, over-the-top, and amazing?  Yes, yes they are. They are also really, really, good.  

Happy first day of fall. 

Brown Butter Apple Pie Bars
Recipe adapted (barely) from Apt. 2B Baking Co.

I don't need to tell you there is a decent amount of butter in these.  You have eyes, you can see it.  But!  These make A LOT of servings.  And a lot of healthy servings.  This is the kind of thing you should only make when you have a crowd to feed.  You've been warned.  

Yield: one 13''x9'' pan, 24-30 bars  (You can also halve this if you want to make a more manageable amount.)

For the Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust

12 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
½ cup brown sugar (I used light)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (you can also do a full 2 cups of all-purpose flour though the whole wheat is lovely)

Preheat your oven to 350º and line a 13''x9'' baking dish with greased foil or parchment paper. 

Brown the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn light brown and the butter has a nutty fragrance. Set aside to cool slightly. 

When the butter has cooled a bit add it to a medium bowl and add in the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla and stir. Add the flour and mix until completely combined. Press it into the prepared pan and bake it until it is golden, about 20 minutes. Set the baked crust aside to cool.

While the crust is baking and cooling prepare the filling.

Apple Filling

¼ cup brown sugar (I used light though dark would work well)
6 large apples, peeled and cut into thin slices (Any pie apples would work)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt

In a large bowl toss the sliced apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.  

Crumb Topping

1 ½ cup oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
8-9 tablespoons butter, softened

In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, then add in the butter (start with 8 tablespoons and add the extra one if your mixture isn't coming together) and mix with your hands until it holds together in clumps.

To Assemble

Spread the apple mixture evenly over the prepared crust, then top with the crumble mixture and press down lightly. 

Bake the bars at 375º for 30-40 minutes until the crumb topping is golden. Cool completely before cutting into 24-30 squares.

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