Apple Pie Bars

Insert obligatory ode to fall post proclaiming love for all things pumpkin, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin beer, butternut squash, flannel, boots, sweaters, fall foliage, cider, apples, apple picking, etc etc etc here:

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And then make these!

Apple Pie Bars

(from Food and Wine Magazine)

For the crust:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the apple filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
6 semi-tart apples (about 3 pounds, I used Honeycrisp, Macoun, and Cortland, you can also use Granny Smith)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup water, as necessary

For the crumb topping:
3/8 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack. 

For the apple filling: In a large skillet, melt the butter with the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir the cinnamon and nutmeg into the skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet and add up to 1/2 cup of water to  prevent scorching. Let cool. 

For the crumb topping: Toast the walnuts in a skillet or in the oven until lightly toasted. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps. (You can also cheat and pulse all ingredients in a food processor before mixing in the chopped walnuts.)

Assembly: Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes to an 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Serve warmed or at room temperature.  They are especially tasty when served warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of salty caramel.

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