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. 

candied pecans

This recipe is one of my favorites to make and package up as a delicious food gift for friends, coworkers and neighbors. But there is a problem with this recipe. The problem is that you need to either make a double batch so you can eat half and still have some leftover, or you need to not eat any because once you start, you can’t stop! They are wildly addicting!These pecans have it all – sweet, spicy, savory, salty and a great crunch. But that’s not even the best part. The best part of making these is that you likely have most of the ingredients in your pantry and the oven does all the work.

Simply toss the pecans with a whisked egg white and then combine with the dry spice mixture of sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Pour onto a lined sheet pan and bake. Let cool and serve or store in an air tight container.

  • Cayenne pepper has a wide range of spice level so I recommend tasting it before deciding how much you want to add to achieve the right sweet and spicy balance.
  • Wrap in treat bags and tie with a festive ribbon for a fun food gift.

Candied Pecans
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
resting time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

These sweet and spicy pecans are perfect to serve with cocktails or over vanilla ice cream! They also make a great homemade gift. 

Course: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 4 cups 12 ounces pecans halves, unsalted
  • 1 egg white whisked
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Add the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

  3. Whisk one egg white. 

  4. In a separate bowl, combine pecans and egg whites, and gently toss until the pecans are evenly coated. Add in the sugar mixture, and toss until the pecans are coated in the spice mixture. 

  5. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. 

  6. Spread the mixture out in a single layer between the two pans. Bake for 20 minutes, toss, flip pans and bake for another 20 minutes. 

  7. Remove from the oven, and let the baking sheet cool on a cooling rack until the nuts reach room temperature. Transfer them to an airtight storage container or individual packages. 

chocolate chip cookies

There are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there- how can you choose which one to use?! So the first step is to decide what kind of cookie you are looking to make. Chewy, soft, thick, thin, chunky, cakey, crispy, salty? Once you determine what kind of cookie it is you seek, you can narrow down your recipe search.

Now, if you are looking for a thin, salty, semi-crisp chocolate chip cookie- then look no further. I’ve got you covered.

My recipe is inspired by Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chunk recipe but with the changes that helped turn it into what I consider the best recipe for me! You should do the same to make it your own! For me, I’m not a fan of big chunks of chocolate so I like to use mini chocolate chips because they melt into the cookie and are sprinkled throughout. I also only include walnuts every so often. Remember… walnuts and raisins are always optional!

The salty sweetness of this cookies is a real crowd pleaser 🙂  

Chocolate Chip Cookie
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookie, sweets
Servings: 35 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 room temperature extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips feel free to add a nother handful if you like they super chocolatey
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts – optional (make sure they are fresh!)
Instructions
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt
  2. Using an electric mixer like a kitchen aid, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and two sugars for about 4 minutes until very light and fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted flour, baking soda, and salt to the butter mixture, mixing only until combined.
  5. Use a spatula to mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Scoop cookies onto a cookie sheets using a cookie scoop. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). place cookies on a cooling rack and serve warm or cool.
  7. After cookies have cooled completely, store in an airtight container.
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.

blueberry crumb cake

This is the BEST crumb cake recipe in the whole entire world! The first time I made this cake it exceeded my wildest expectations and I’m certain it will exceed yours too. It not only tastes delicious, but the smell while it bakes is absolutely fabulous!This is yet another outstanding Ina Garten recipe. The only thing that I changed from the original recipe is that I use a 9” springform pan rather than the cake pan that the original recipe calls for, and it worked out brilliantly. I highly, highly recommend you do the same if you have one. The springform pan guarantees an easy exit from your pan to your serving dish ensuring your cake doesn’t crumble before you are ready to serve it.

This cake is perfect for so many occasions, but I think serving it for brunch or with afternoon tea is about as perfect as it gets. I also can’t imagine a better house warming gift for a new neighbor or friend.For storage, cover the cake loosely and leave it out at room temperature. It will stay for up to 3 days, if you can keep away from it for that long.

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
Course: brunch
Servings: 8 people
Author: Ina Garten
Ingredients
For the streusel:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 pound 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the cake:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (3/4 stick)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
Instructions
For the streusel:
  1. Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.
For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers,
  4. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Italian pizzelle cookie

Pizzelles are a traditional Italian treat, best described as a ‘waffle cookie.’ They are super thin, crispy and insanely addicting! When you are cooking them, they produce the same smell that leaves your mouth watering when you smell the Belgium waffles cooking on the side of a ski slope. (If you’ve never experienced that smell, trust me when I tell you that there is no better smell!)

But what is it? A pizzelle is basically a waffle cone. (And who doesn’t love a waffle cone?) The ingredients are mixed together to become a batter and then cooked on a special waffle iron. When they come off the iron, they are pliable and can either let them set as a cookie, or they can be formed and left to set into the shape of a cone. They can also be rolled and used as for making cannolis.

My absolute favorite cookie to make (and eat!) are Classic Italian Pizzelle Cookies!

I grew up eating pizzelles and I will grow old eating pizzelles. But I don’t just love eating this classic cookie, I love making them too.

Unfortunately, you did need special equipment to make pizzelle cookies.  They make a variety of waffle irons to choose from including non-stick and light-weight options. Personally, I am old school and my pizzelle iron is heavy-duty, cast aluminum version and very similar to the one that I remember my great-grandma using. I believe somethings just shouldn’t change and this is one of them. If you ever decide to invest in a pizzelle iron, you will be able to enjoy making these traditional Italian cookies for family, friends, neighbors and more for many years to come. It’s one kitchen appliance that I really enjoy owning and I think you will too!

This is the pizzelle iron I own and recommend:

If you are a traditionalist in the kitchen and interested in buying a Pizzelle maker, I included a link to the one I own. I purchased it from Amazon many years ago and have used it countless times.  I can recommend this product with confidence to anyone looking to purchase one for themselves, or as a gift for the cook in their life. 🙂

Feaster’s Tip:

Use a pancake batter dispenser for the pizzelle batter. It works like a dream and makes the process of dolloping the batter onto the iron much faster and more consistent.

Classic Italian Pizzelle
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract (or anise if preferred)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 8 tbsp melted butter
Instructions
  1. Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. (about 4  minutes on kitchen aid low setting)

  2. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.

  3. Stir in the melted butter and mix until smooth.

  4. Heat your pizzelle iron and lightly grease with vegetable or canola oil. 

  5. Add about a tablespoon of batter to the center of the pizzelle iron and press for about 45 seconds or until golden brown. 

  6. Carefully remove the pizzelle and place on to a cooling rack. 

  7.  Once cooled, dust with confectioner’s sugar. 

Recipe Notes

Once cookies are cooled completely, they can be stored in an air tight container for at least one week.

SSometimes, cooking something that reminds you of someone, something, or some place, is a great way to remember and relive experiences. It’s certainly not the same, but it’s a great way to transport yourself or bring those memories into your home. For me, a slice of Key Lime Pie helped fill my soul on this cold, NY Sunday with a slice of Key West Life.

Key West, Florida is our favorite place in the world- and we don’t get there nearly enough. I miss it all the time, but I never miss it more than in the dead of winter. So, rather than sitting around on a lazy, cold, Sunday and dreaming of the Keys, I decided to make some Key Lime Pie and bring a little bit of Key West life to us.

I love Key Lime pie, but I had never made one from scratch before. So, after reviewing some recipes I decided to try one that I found on the Food Network website, courtesy of Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant and I did use actual Key Limes! (What a work out to squeeze those little guys!)Once the pie was finished and was setting, I decided to round out our Key West meal and make some Mahi Mahi Fish Sandwiches for dinner, inspired by our favorite Key West fish sandwich from B.O.’s Fish Wagon. B.O.’s Fish Wagon is one of our most frequented lunch stops while in Key West. It’s a actual shack, it has long lines, and when they run out of fish for the day- the day is over and you’re out of luck. The secret is super fresh fish, grilled white onions, fresh bread and a quality Tarter sauce. B.O.’s uses a Key Lime Tarter Sauce, but for our purposes, I used Ina Garten’s Tarter Sauce.

After our Mahi sandwiches hit the spot we were primed up for the feature item of the evening…The Key Lime Pie.

The first bite was dreamy- the recipe was just perfect! I ate my slice slowly, gently, and let my mind wonder to memories of strolling around the streets of Key West wondering where the night would take us, stopping for a slice of Key Lime pie somewhere along the way.Get The Recipe