The past few months have been an overwhelming whirlwind of….well, college. It’s pretty hard to believe that my first semester is almost over, but it’s the home stretch! Even though l still have to make it through finals, it’s nice to get away from the dorm life for just a few days and have you, know, an actual kitchen. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am extremely thankful for a kitchen with fully stocked cabinets of pots and pans, utensils in familiar drawers, and the fridge two feet away instead of on the next floor up in my room. It’s the little things in life, right?
One of the most tragic parts of Asian Thanksgiving is that our menu doesn’t typically include classic dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, or apple pie. I don’t mind the last part as much because I’m not a huge fan of pie, but I do like the idea of it (as evidenced by my apple pie in cupcake form). Cinnamon and apple cooking together is one of the best smells in the world, but apple pie has too much filling… Enter pie bars, which are exactly what they sound like – all the flavors of apple pie but with more crust (of the shortbread variety – even better)!
Other than the sheer awesomeness of having apple pie in perfect little squares instead of a messy glob of filling with half the crust left broken at the bottom of the pie pan (ain’t nobody got time for that), this recipe also comes together surprisingly quickly, and with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Take it away, my friends. Until next time!
Recipe: Apple Crumble Bars
For the base:
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
- 4 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and coarsely diced (I recommend granny smith)
- 2 TB granulated sugar + 2 TB brown sugar
- 1-2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. orange juice (if you don’t have an orange use lemon or lime… or apple)
For the topping:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 TB granulated sugar + 2 TB brown sugar
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Cook the apple filling:
- Place the apples in a large skillet and toss with the sugar and cinnamon. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until apples are tender but still firm. In a small cup, whisk together cornstarch and orange juice. Add to the apple mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8×8” baking dish with foil, leaving overhang on both sides for easy removal later. Grease foil.
Make the crust:
- In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Mix well. Cut the butter into the flour and work it until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. While you wait for the crust to bake, prepare the topping. When the crust is done, remove from the oven and spread the cooked apple filling on top.
For the topping:
- In a medium bowl combine all ingredients for the topping. Mix well until combined and crumbly. Sprinkle over the apple layer.
- Bake for 28-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. (I refrigerate the bars before serving to get a clean cut.) Lift the bars out of the pan using the foil overhang and slice.
Number of servings (yield): 16 squares
Adapted from Annie’s Eats