Exciting news, friends! This girl is going to London! Yes, you read correctly. I’m taking a trip. To London. England. Solo. Just me. And, I am BEYOND ecstatic. Some may say that traveling alone may be unsafe, lonely, boring, etc. I couldn’t disagree more. Think about it. When you go anywhere with another person, who do you focus all of your attention on? That person! Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. But, imagine going on your own. The people you meet and the experiences you have will be substantially different. Not only would you have time to focus on yourself, but you would be able to make your own agenda, see what you want to see, and meet who you want to meet. THAT is what I’m so excited for. (That, and tracking down the dream team to hug them…)
Long winded introduction aside, I’m sure there are many still thinking that a young woman taking an international trip alone is not the best idea. To put those naysayers at ease, this week’s post is pretty “all American”. In fact, when fellow travelers ask me about American food, this week’s goodie is the stuff I’ll talk about: good ole’ American apple pie…in handheld form. That’s right people: Deep Dish Apple Pie Bars are coming your way. (This also may just be the post I look at myself if I end up getting homesick at any point during the trip…)
These days, I’m all about making my favorite treats more easily edible. Essentially, I’m too lazy to use/wash/dry/put away forks and plates unnecessarily. (Isn’t that also pretty American of me?) Instead, I’d rather pick up my food by the hand and go at it that way. It’s probably why I’m such a big fan of cookies…. Anyways! These bars were intended to allow me to do just that. The way I ended up making them however, still required a fork, plate, and a few napkins. If you are looking for truly handheld, use only about 3/4 of the apples I talk about in the directions later on.
Let’s get started! Your bars are going to start with a super simple shortbread crust. Remember these Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Tarts? They used the same thing! Essentially, to make your crust, you’ll want to combine your melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla, all in one bowl. Yep, Just mixed until combined…tada!
Using an 8×8 square pan, lined with parchment paper, press your shortbread crust evenly onto the surface and into the corners. Bake this at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. It’s okay if the crust isn’t completely cooked through yet, because it’ll be visiting the oven again later.
While your base is baking, we’ll focus on the topping: a yummy, crumbly streusel. There are two super important things you’ll need here: cold butter (like, real cold) and your fingers (the best tools you have in the kitchen). When combining butter and sugar, the two tend to want to be homogeneous friends. When you have warm and softened butter, you make that a real possibility. Cold butter however allows the mixture to resemble crumbles. Work all of those ingredients together with your fingers until you have what looks like what would go on top of a coffee cake. Throw that into the fridge until it is time to assemble the bars.
Up next, the main attraction: the apples! We’re keeping it super simple here, just like the best apple pies should be. When choosing apples, I like to go for a mix of sweet and tart. For example, for these guys, I peeled and sliced two Granny Smith, and two of my favorites…Pink Ladies. The sliced apples can be combined with a quarter cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the (not-so) secret ingredient of allspice. Just a little bit of that stuff works wonders on any dish that is meant to taste like Fall.
Once your crust is done cooking, you can spread your apples over it, making sure to fill in any nooks and crannies. Again, if you’re going for truly handheld treats here, use one less apple, and cut the slices even thinner.
Finally, take out that crumble and sprinkle it on evenly. I would recommend patting the whole thing down a tad once finished, just to make sure it all sticks together in the oven. The bars look huge and opposing now…which they are, and will be…but don’t worry, the apples will shrink down while baking.
Thirty minutes later, you will be about as American as they come. While it may be tempting to dig in the moment they come out of the oven, it’s best if the bars hang out in the pan for a few minutes to cool. If you were to try to use the parchment to pull them right out, the base might crumble when still that warm.
Don’t worry, your patience will be rewarded once you can finally take your first bite of….
There you have it folks, an apple-y, crumbly, piece of deliciousness that you can (may be able to) hold in your own hands.
Next week, I’ll give you a sneak peak into my London food bucket list. Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!
- ¾ cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 4 medium sized apples, peeled and sliced to 1/3 to ½ inch thickness
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ cup old fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl combine the melted butter, flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined, and loose dough has formed.
- Press the dough into a lined 8x8 square pan, ensuring that the corners have been filled and the layer is even.
- Bake for 15 minutes, and remove from the oven.
- Combine cold and cubed butter with oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Use fingers or fork to work together until the mix resembles course crumbs.
- Refrigerate until assembly.
- Combine sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Ensure that all apples are evenly coated with spices.
- Layer apples onto shortbread crust, filling in each hole
- Sprinkle crumble over the apples, pressing down lightly to pack the layers together.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow bars to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
- Once bars have completely cooled, cut and enjoy!
- **For thinner bars, only use 3 apples and slice thinner pieces.