Stop whatever you are doing and go work out right now. Seriously, just go for a run. Or spinning. Or get on the elliptical. Just do something active. Then come right back and make these apple pie bars. It will make you feel much better about eating them. Or is that just me? Wait, don’t answer that.
When I first saw the amount of butter in this recipe, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it. But then I realized that it makes a huge batch of bars and frankly they just looked too good to pass up. I was totally right. These are probably one of my favorite desserts that I’ve made in a very long time.
I am in major fall baking mode and have always wanted to make a bar version of apple pie. I like apple pie and all, but prefer the portability of bars or bite size portions. It’s also easier to give away so you don’t wind up eating them all yourself.
And these apple pie bars are just perfect. They start with a brown sugar shortbread crust. Then there is a layer of beautiful caramelized cinnamon apple filling. The bars are finished off with an oatmeal crumb topping. It’s perfection I tell you. I’m dying to eat another one as I’m writing this.
These bars do take some extra time and work to prepare. But the end result is absolutely worth it. Add this recipe to your fall baking must-try list. You won’t be disappointed. Not one little bit.
- 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 6 pounds apples; peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup water, if needed
- 3 cups quick cooking oats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 15 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt. Beat until a soft dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into the pan in an even layer. Bake for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the crust is just golden. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the filling: Place an extra-large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and sugar. Once melted, add the apples. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the apples are softened. Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook for about 15 minutes longer, until the apples are caramelized and the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool. *If you need to at any point during this step, add the water to the skillet to prevent scorching and scrape any browned bits from the pan (I did not need to add any water). Additionally, I had to turn up the heat slightly at the end to get all the liquid to evaporate.
- To make the topping: In a large bowl, add the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. Using a pastry cutter, your fingers, or two knives, cut the butter chunks into the flour mixture until it resembles even-sized crumbs. Fold in the walnuts and pecans.
- To assemble: Evenly distribute the cooled apple filling over the shortbread crust. Using your fingers, press the crumb topping into clumps and evenly distribute over the apple filling. Press the topping gently into an even layer.
- Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes in the 375 degree oven, until the top is golden brown. Rotate the pan once during baking. Let cool completely then cut into 2-inch bars. While it is tempting to cut these while still warm, hold off until they are cooled (I let mine cool overnight), otherwise they may not hold together as well.