Have you ever craved the comforting flavor of apple pie but wanted something simpler and quicker to whip up? Say hello to the Best-Ever Apple Pie Bars – a crumbly delight that even baking novices can make with ease. Whether you’re an experienced baker or just venturing into the sweet world of desserts, this recipe offers a treat that’s irresistibly delicious and hassle-free.
Why I Love This Recipe
Making apple pies is, well… hard. But of course, I love them! This recipe is really the perfect option when you don’t want the trouble of making an actual apple pie, but want all the goodness that goes with it. This is also perfect if you’re hosting company or need something delicious to bring to a potluck, family gathering or any other special event.
Equipment and Ingredients Needed
We’ll use a very pantry-friendly list of ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand. Our ingredients include:
- Fresh apples
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- An egg
- Baking powder, salt, cornstarch and water
Now really, does it get any simpler than that?
We don’t need any fancy equipment either. Just a couple of mixing bowls, a hand mixer (or stand mixer such as a KitchenAid mixer works), a baking dish (8″x8″ or 9″x9″ are ideal), and some parchment paper.
Best Apples to Use?
So what exactly are the best kinds of apples to use for a recipe such as this? Choosing the right apples can seem overwhelming as there are SO many different kinds available. Let me cut right to the chase. The best apples to use are a combination of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith apples. Granny Smith apples are tart, while Honeycrisps are both sweet and tart, giving the pie a nice flavor balance. Their texture also holds up well during baking.
Apple to avoid when making apple pie filling are: Red delicious, McIntosh, Gala and Fuji. Though delicious to eat, these apples tend to break down and become mealy and mushy with a poor texture when baked.
There are 2 main parts to this recipe – the crust and the filling. We’ll make the crust first as it will need to be chilled in the fridge for about 30 minutes before it’s ready to use.
Start by adding some room-temperature butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and mix it until it’s light and creamy. Usually, about 3 minutes does the trick. It will start out clumpy and weird but as it comes together, it will get nice and creamy. Then add in the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing for another couple of minutes. In a seperate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
Our crust is now ready to be chilled. Cover the bowl with plastic and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky and chilling it will bring it to the consistency we need.
Don’t Skip the Chill!
You’ve probably heard that baking is a science. And, well, it’s true. Does the dough really need to chill? It sure does! Here’s why… gluten and fat. Wait, what? Well, there’s gluten in the flour which is essential to the overall consistency. Those gluten strands need to settle down which will keep the dough together and workable, instead of crumbling apart. Then there’s the fat part, which of course, is the butter. If we don’t let the dough chill, that butter will melt right out, making the dough a greasy mess.
Now comes the part that really gets us in the mood for an apple dish – the filling itself! Start by peeling the apples and cutting into chunks. Not too big, not too small. Chunks of around ½″ to 1″ are fine. See the images below. Measure out to 4 cups. This will usually be about 4 small apples or 3 larger ones. If using 4, split evenly between honey crisp and granny smith. For 3 apples, use 2 honeycrisp and one granny smith.
Using a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When melted, it’s time for the apples to go in. This is when things get fun. Saute those apples for about 5 minutes until they just start to get soft. Now add ¼ cup water, the granulated sugar, and cinnamon and stir it all together. Oh boy… it’s really starting to smell like apple pie now!
The mixture will then be thickened with a simple cornstarch slurry. We make this by mixing 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small cup or bowl. Slowly add the slurry to the apple mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes and watch everything thicken to a syrupy consistency. Your apple pie filling is now ready!
Putting it All Together
Use an 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ baking dish and grease it, followed by adding parchment paper.
Wait… both grease and add parchment paper? Yes indeed. Using butter to grease the dish will help the parchment stay in place. Also, it helps should any leakage occur with the parchment during cooking.
With the greased and lined baking dish, take ⅔ of the dough and spread it as evenly as possible into the baking dish. Dust your hands with flour to help prevent sticking.
With the bottom crust now in place, add the apple mixture evenly on top.
Now, use the remaining dough and pull it into small pieces and place it on top of the apple mixture. This doesn’t have to be neat and tidy. If the kids want to help, this is a good part for them to lend a sticky hand. 🙂
Bake, Cool, Serve
Our apple pie bake/bars dish is now ready to go into the oven. Place on the middle rack of a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the crust on top is slightly golden. When the baking is complete, you’ll want to let it cool for a good 10-15 minutes at least before cutting into bars or squares for serving.
There really isn’t a wrong way to enjoy apple pie bars. You can cut them up and just dig right in! But, if you want to make them even more delectable (is that possible?), here are a few simple suggestions.
- À la mode: Meaning simply – served with ice cream. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, OR, right on top! Oooh that cold ice cream with the delicious apple pie bake in the same bite is heavenly.
- Whipped cream: The light, fluffy texture and sweet creaminess of whipped cream is a dream team when coupled with these apple pie bars.
- Caramel drizzle: add another layer of sweet goodness with a simple drizzle of your favorite caramel topping.
- Go nuts!: Pecans or walnuts add a delicious crunch.
- All of the above: Need I say more? Use a combination of all of these for an over-the-top dessert experience!
First, let your bars cool down after baking. If they’re hot and you pack them away, they might get all mushy.
If you’re going to enjoy the bars in the next day or two, you can keep them on the counter in an airtight container for about 2 days. If you want to save them for longer, put them in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
The apple pie bars can also be frozen. Make sure they are completely cooled, wrap each one individually with plastic wrap, then place into a freezer-safe bag or container.
Remember, the key is to make sure they’re cool before storing, and keep them in a tight box or bag so they stay tasty!Print