This has been the year of the bar cookie. Those of you who follow my blog might be shocked to learn that except for chocolate chip cookies baked as blondies and brownies, I had never made a bar cookie before this year.
For a person who prefers chewy, thick cookies, I am beginning to realize this was sheer lunacy on my part.
Bar cookies present endless possibilities, such as thicker, chewier versions of cookies you already make or, as in this case, cookie versions of pies, crisps and crumbles, each layer representing a different component of the dessert. And, to my surprise, bars are usually as easy, if not easier.
This bar cookie comes from Carole Walter’s Great Cookies, and is a no brainer as far as good fall cookies go. Who doesn’t like apple based desserts in September? I really only have 1 complaint with the recipe, which turned out quite tasty: calling for 6 Granny Smith apples is too vague and I think my apples were too small, leading to too little filling (I used 8 small, local, tart apples). Next time I would try 12.
6 large Granny Smith Apples or equivalent of any tart apple (I am guessing 12 of the small kinds), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T honey
1/2 t cinnamon
2 1/4 cups AP flour, spooned in and leveled (about 284 g)
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup AP flour, spooned in and leveled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (we had a mishap and spilled ours–I used about 1/2 cup)
This is one of those recipes that can look overwhelming, but it goes by quickly. I recommend making the filling and then starting the crust while the filling is cooking, but keep an eye on it (the filling). Then, while the filling is cooling and the crust is baking, make the streusel.
In a large, preferably nonstick, skillet heated on medium heat, place all of the filling ingredients except the cinnamon. Stir them to combine and then cover the skillet and ignore it for 3 minutes. Remove the cover, add the cinnamon and let the apples bubble away, stirring occasionally. After 15-20 minutes, when all of the liquid has evaporated, set the skillet aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a 9X13 baking pan with buttered foil or plain parchment paper (I butter the pan to help the parchment stick).
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Cream the butter and brown sugar on medium low speed in a large bowl until creamy and evenly mixed (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs and mix to incorporate. Add the flour mix in 2 batches, stirring only to incorporate.
Press the dough evenly into the pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until beginning to turn golden and pull away from the sides of the pan. While the crust is baking, make the streusel.
Place the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt into the bowl of a mixer (I quickly washed my bowl inbetween the crust and streusel). Mix these dry ingredients with the paddle attachment. When mixed, add the cold butter and mix on medium low speed until crumbly and the mixture barely holds together when squeezed gently. Mix in the pecans.
When you remove the crust from the oven, immediately spread the apple filling evenly over the crust and then sprinkle the streusel on top of the crust. Press it gently to make sure it adheres to the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and crispy.
Let the bars cool completely in the pan–they will slice even better if you chill them as well.