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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Mini Apple Crisp Pies

 

Sometimes in life we are forced to make hard decisions… like should I make one large apple pie or individual mini apple pies?  Should I add a scoop (or 2) of ice cream to said pie/mini pies? (Should I operate on this patient or just observe him/her?)  Luckily, I have some amazing friends who help me make these tough decisions (regarding the pie, not operating) and even volunteer to taste test!  So recently when faced with this overwhelming dilemna, individual mini pies won out!

What’s great about mini pies is that they substantially increase the crust to filling ratio.  I don’t know about you, but my favorite part of pie is usually the crust (and depending on the type of pie, the crumble topping, or whipped cream, or chocolate, or…you get the point: pie is just kinda awesome).

These mini pies take things a step futher by adding a crisp topping and finally drizzling with icing.  For those who cannot decide between eating apple pie and apple crisp, this is your answer.  I definitely plan to keep this recipe in my arsenal for future fruit pies (there are endless possibilities with just minor changes to the recipe).  Enjoy!

Mini Apple Crisp Pies

(males about 18, recipe adapted from Girl versus Dough)

For the crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup ice-cold water

For the crisp topping:
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

For the apple filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1½ lbs sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

For the maple icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

To make the pie dough: Combine flours, sugar and salt in a food processor . Add butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Pour ice-cold water into mixture in bowl; pulse until a rough dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a countertop and knead a few times until dough comes together; divide in half and shape each half into a ball. Flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick disc. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in fridge 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the crisp topping: In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter with fingers and mix until well combined. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor by pulsing all the ingredients until combined.  Chill mixture until pie dough is fully chilled and ready to bake.

To make the apple filling: In a large bowl, combine sugars, flour, nutmeg and lemon juice. Add apple slices and toss until well combined.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

When pie dough is fully chilled, sprinkle a countertop generously with flour, then roll out each pie dough disc to a rough ⅛-inch thickness. Use a 4-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out dough rounds; re-roll scraps one time to cut out more rounds (you should end up with about 18 rounds).

Press each round into the bottom and sides of an ungreased muffin cup.

Divide apple filling among muffin cups (the filling will be a bit mounded, but it’ll bake down). Sprinkle tops evenly with oatmeal cookie topping.

Bake 40 minutes until topping is golden brown and pie crust is baked through.

Cool mini pies in muffin cups 30 minutes, then use a butter knife or spatula to carefully transfer pies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Combine maple syrup and powdered sugar in a small pot over medium/low heat and stir until sugar combined and disolved.  Drizzle icing immediately over fully cooled pies.

Apple Pecan Oatmeal Creme Pies

I used to bring the unhealthiest (but delicious!) lunches to school when I was younger: Bologna or corn beef sandwiches with a side of doritos or cheetos  finished by a tasty, packaged snack cake or cookie (aka- twinkies, ding dongs, etc).  We always had ample junk food in the house to create these lunches and my kitchen cabinets were the envy of all of my friends.  My favorite dessert snack by far was Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies.  While my lunches have become healthier with age (although residency occasionally interferes), I still have a weakness for those Oatmeal Creme Pies of my childhood.

The other day when I was looking for some baking inspiration, my co-worker showed me some recipes she had been eyeing on pinterest.  One reminded me of the oatmeal creme pies and inspiration struck!  I decided to make my own grown up version.

Apple Pecan Oatmeal Creme Pies

Apple Pecan Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook)

1 cup (sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup (245 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cup (175 g) old –fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1 cup chopped apple (from about 2 apples)
1  cup toasted pecans, chopped

Creme Pie Filling (Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook)

2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 dashes of cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, making sure there are no lumps of baking soda. Stir in the oats.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined. On low speed, or by hand, gradually add the flour and oat mixture to the creamed butter, mixing until completely incorporated.  Add the chopped apples and pecans and mix until just incorporated.

At this point you can portion the dough out into 1 Tbs balls and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  If time does not permit, this refrigeration step can be skipped (but does make for a better cookie).

Place the dough balls on the parchment lined baking sheet, an inch apart. Bake for about 10 min or until just starting to become golden brown.  DO NOT overbake!  Remove from oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.

While cookies are cooling, make the creme filling in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Cream the butter on medium high.  On slow, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar.  Once incorporated and smooth, turn speed up to medium and add maple syrup, cinnamon and salt.  Increase to high and beat for 1 minute until fluffy.

Pipe or spread filling onto bottoms of half the cookies and then top with the rest of the cookies to make creme pies.