Apple Pie Bars

This is a “wow” dessert recipe. Actually, it’s a double wow! And frankly, it ought to be because I’ll tell you right now- these Apple Pie bars require a notable amount of time to make, and a decent amount of love, but the pay off is big in the end because they are simply awesome! 

The first time I made these amazing bites of deliciousness, I individually wrapped a few and dropped them off to a few friends for them to try and give me feedback. One friend came back and said “The only feedback I have for you is MAKE MORE!”

Apple Pie Bars

It all starts with a savory shortbread crust. I don’t care what anyone says, no one can resist a buttery, soft, salty shortbread anything. The shortbread crust is then topped with perfectly sliced tart apples and then finished with a delicious crumble. The layers of savory, salty, tart, and sweet guarantee a truly exceptional apple dessert.

I am not going to lie to you! It takes a couple of hours to assemble these Apple Pie bars, but you get 9 large or 12 small portions and they will stay good for a day or two, but no more. (They would never last longer than that anyway- you’ll want to eat the entire batch.) My recommendation is to make sure you buy all your ingredients the day or two before so you have everything on hand for when you decide to get started. Then, pick out a great album and put that apron on- you’re going to be here for a while. But I promise you, it will be worth it!

The Recipe

Apple Pie Bars
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple pie
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 3 large)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (about 3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons 1/2 stick unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.
  4. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  6. Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.
apple crostata

Apple pie is undeniably the most popular and most delicious of all American pie desserts. However, this Apple Crostata has replaced Apple Pie in my kitchen. It is so much easier to make and loaded with wonderful, should warming flavors. My favorite thing about this dish is the slow roasted flavor of the apples.  Because the it’s an open faced pie, the apple is exposed to the warm, oven air and roast rather than steam like they would in an enclosed pie, they roast and they are amazing! It’s a quintessential rustic dessert and I just love that.This recipe comes from Ina Garten (no surprise there!) but I have to admin that although she claims her pie crust is easy to make, I don’t typically have the extra time to make it. So I use a good quality store bought pie crust which we all know isn’t as good as homemade, but it’s better than not making pie at all! It saves a ton of time and mess.

(Almost) Ina Garten's Apple Crostata
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 store bought pie crust Recommended: Immaculate Pie Crust
  • 1 1/2 lbs pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
  • 1/4 tsp teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 1/4 ground allspice
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet. (It doesn't need to be perfect!)

  3. For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

  4. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.

  5. Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mixed berry shortbread crumble bars

If you love shortbread, which I do, this is a great recipe. I don’t love overly sweet things so it makes sense that I gravitate towards treats like shortbread because they have a savory element that cookies or cake don’t typically have. The downside is that the savory element comes mostly from the fairly large amount of butter it takes to make shortbread cookies, or in this case, shortbread bars. But hey- somethings are worth it and this is one of them.

This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe for raspberry crumble bars featured in her “Foolproof” cookbook.  The major difference between Ina’s recipe and mine is that I prefer to use mixed berry jam over pure raspberry, but that’s a personal choice. When given a jam choice, I always go mixed berry.

  • For this recipe to be successful you must use room temperature butter or your dough will not come together. (Trust me, I’ve made this mistake before.)
  • Use the right size pan
  • You need jam, not jelly. Yes, there is a difference!
  • Wait for the bars to cool completely before removing from the pan. Removing from the pan is by far, the hardest part of the recipe. Just cut a small square to start and then go from there.

This is the 9×9 cake pan that I own and recommendIt’s necessary to have a good baking pan that reduces your chances of your batter sticking and ruining all your hard work. After a bit of research, this is the pan I choose for its construction that was designed to enhance air flow for even baking and rapid release. It cooks evenly and always releases easily. I recommend this product confidently.

The Recipe

Mixed Berry Shortbread Crumble Bars
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Cooling time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 to 12 ounces mixed berry jam or raspberry jam
  • 2/3 cup good granola without dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed just until combined. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla.

  3. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing until it almost comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out on a board. Lightly pat two-thirds of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides. Spread with the jam, leaving a ¼-inch border. Mix the granola into the remaining dough with your hands. Break the dough into small bits and distribute it on top of the jam, covering most of the surface. Sprinkle the almonds on top. 

  4. Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned.

  5. Cool completely and cut into 9 or 12 bars. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe Notes

Once cooled, store in an airtight container for 3 days. 

spiced apple chutney

Chutneys are awesomely delicious. They are sweet, but not sweet like a traditional jam. Chutney has a savory components as well which balance it, makes it more versatile, and much more interesting to taste. Chutney’s texture is also unlike it’s cousin in that it is more chunky than jam, which brings some texture to the palate party.

Enjoyed all around the world, chutney is most commonly associated with Indian and African cuisines, and can be traced as far back to it origin sometime around 500 AD. (So the Google tells me.) It was at that time that the Romans introduced chutneys to European tables, which is actually where I fell in love with chutney. (English countryside. 17 years old. A picnic with my aunt and uncle. Cheddar and Chutney. Game over.)

Where as in India, the Caribeean, Africa and other parts of the world, Chutneys are often served with vegetables, meats and fishes. Europeans do it a little differently, often seen included on a cheese & charcuterie platters. Cheese and Chutney folks- that’s the good life right there.

The Chutney recipe is a fantastic one and extremely easy to make. I found it in Ina Garten’s cookbook to accompany one of the best pork recipes in the world. (yes, you read that right- I said best pork recipe in the world.)

The flavors were absolute perfection. Savory, spicy, sweet. It is amazing how good this chutney is. The recipe below yielded about 2.5 pint size mason jars, which would mean you would likely get about 5-6 jelly jars out of it, making a great food gift for friends and neighbors.

No question, the pork and apple chutney is superb. But what I really like to do with this chutney is serve it with a really great quality English cheddar. Mmmm….it’s just so good.  You will simply be amazed at how the flavors come together and elevate each other. Your taste buds will thank you after this bite.

Spiced Apple Chutney
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

Sweet, Savory and Spicy! This chutney is perfect to serve with a sharp cheddar cheese or your favorite pork chop recipe.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 10
Author: Adapted from Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and half-inch diced
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 2 oranges
  • 3/4 cup good cider vinegar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the apples, onion, ginger, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, pepper flakes and salt and in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  2. Set aside to cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes approximately 2.5 pint size mason jars. 

Blueberry Crostata

Better than blueberry pie

Homemade Blueberry Pie. Does it get any better? Sure does!  This open face version of a blueberry pie is so incredibly easy to make that you literally have NO excuse not to make one of America’s greatest summer dessert traditions, at any time.

Besides that it tastes great, the blueberry crostata simple looks beautiful! The blueberries do all the work by becoming the focal point and the star of the dish. You can’t help but dig right in. It’s a rustic dish, but impressive enough to serve to guests or to round out a stay at home dinner date.

Blueberry Crostata
With only a few ingredients, this rustic tart is easy, delicious and impressive enough for any occasion!

There are two ingredients that take this crostata to the next level- the pie crust and the sugar. All good pie must have good pie crust. So you’ll need to make your own or use a really good pre-made crust. Sugar in the raw on the crust glistens after baking and adds that finishing touch that makes is crostata irresistible.

Recommended (but not necessary) ingredients

The Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Rustic Blueberry Crostata
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
resting time
5 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This recipe for blueberry crostata is “easy as pie” to make! Serve with vanilla bean ice cream and you won’t be disappointed! 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries approx. 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs sugar in the raw (okay to use granulated sugar if you don’t have raw sugar)
  • 1- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chilled butter cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 home made or store bought refrigerated, rolled, 9 inch pie crust (recommended Immaculate Baking Pie Crust)
Instructions
  1. Bring pie crust to room temperature according to package instructions. Then heat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Unroll pie crust and place on the baking sheet. (roll out crust slightly if needed to smooth out or shape.)

  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the blueberries, cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice.

  4. Spoon mixture into the middle of the crust leaving about 2″ around the edge.

  5. Fold the edges over, crimping slightly as you work your way around the pie. 

  6. Dice the chilled butter and dot on top of the blueberries.

  7. Whisk the egg and water.  Brush egg mixture onto the crust and sprinkle with sugar.

  8. Bake 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the blueberries have begun to bubble.

  9. Cool and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made one day in advance. It reheats well, but be careful just to warm up and not recook.

There are some aromas that come from the kitchen that permeate a house and bring comfort to the soul. Roasted chicken, mulled wine and applesauce are among my favorites. When I was growing up, my mom made applesauce every fall when apples were found everywhere in New York state. I’ve kept the tradition alive and I honestly have no idea why I don’t make it all year long! I guess only making it during the fall is what makes it special.Homemade apple sauce couldn’t be easier to make, and there isn’t a person, of any age, who won’t be scraping the bottom of the jar.All you need to do is find some fresh, crisp apples, peel, core and toss them in a heavy bottomed pot. Add about a quarter cup of water, a pinch of cinnamon, and pinch of sugar. Then walk away and let the smell of simmering apples fill your home.

Occasionally, give it a stir. Add more water if needed just to keep it from burning. As it breaks down, you can smash with a potato masher to help it along. That’s it. Its done. Taste for seasoning.

If you prefer a smooth apple sauce, you can puree it with an immersion blender. If you like it chunky, just stop cooking it when reaches your desired level of chunkiness. It’s all about your preference.

Homemade applesauce is one of those simple, culinary joys in life, that I am most grateful for. Thanks Mom!

Applesauce
Total Time
2 hrs 20 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 6 cups apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional if you prefer enhanced sweetness)
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot (or whatever saucepan you have) combine apples, water and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium, to  medium-high, heat.  Reduce heat, and simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. 

  2. If the sauce is starting to stick, add a 1/4 cup of water as needed. 

  3. Once apples have broken down, you can help them along with a potato masher, if desired. If you are seeking a smooth consistency, use an immersion blender. 

  4. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Different apple types have different sugar content so if more sweetness is needed, stir in some sugar and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes on low. (Sugar is rarely needed but it is a preference.)