Can I just say—whoa, the weeks just fly by being involved with TWD, FFWD and TWCC! Having fun though and that’s what matters, right?
When I thought about what cookie I wanted to share next, I also kept thinking about the Sugar Free Spiced Apple/Pear Butter I’d made recently and that made me think about some really good crumb bars I’d had back in Kansas at another one of the classes I’d taken from Chef Paige. The bars Paige made for the class were blueberry, but she mentioned that you can really use any jam or fruit you’d like in the bars, so I decided to go with the seasonally perfect apples. I made these bars once back in May and used apricot preserves on half and some store bought apple butter on the other half. I was using up things we had in the fridge to get ready for our move to Utah. Both bars were good then. Paige’s blueberry bars were delicious. I almost made the blueberry ones, but ultimately decided on apple. I have a freezer full of blueberries I froze this summer, so I’ll make those next.
What I really love about these bars is how sturdy they are. You turn the bars out of the pan and they come out perfectly every time. (Butter will do that for a cookie! ;) I didn’t even chill the bars, just cooled at room temperature for a couple hours. They slice perfectly and you can decide what size you want the bars. The recipe suggests using quick oats, but I was out and used old-fashioned oats with great success.
Stack up the bars. No problem there.
These taste great as they have the spiced apple butter as well as some chunks of apple. Any fruit/jam/filling you use and these cookies are great for Christmas trays, exchanges, or any entertaining. You could also add walnuts or pecans to the cookie base/topping if you’d like. Thanks for the great recipe, Paige! If you want true cooking expertise along with great recipes shared by a real genuine person, check out Paige’s blog, A Cooking Life.
Apple Betty Bars, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys! from Chef Paige Vandegrift’s Blueberry Betty Bars
Cookie Base and Crumble Topping:
2 cups all purpose flour (8 ounces)
1 ½ cups quick oats (4.5 ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar (3.5 ounces)
½ cup light brown sugar (3.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup melted butter (1/2 lb.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and stir until well combined and crumbly. Set half of the crumb mixture (about 14 ounces each) aside and press the other half into the bottom of a quarter sheet pan or a 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake until puffed and golden—10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped to ½ inch dice
1 cup spiced apple butter (I used homemade) (9 ½ ounces)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine the apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the apple butter and stir together. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat until apples are tender, 10-15 minutes. (I used a glass bowl in the microwave cooking in 2 minute intervals and stirring until the apples were tender.)
Spread the apple filling over the baked crust. Scatter the remaining crumble over all. Bake until golden brown—25 to 35 minutes. Let the bars cool. Turn them out of the pan and then back onto a cutting board. Cut into bars. Place the bars on a double thickness of paper towels for a few minutes to absorb excess butter. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
***If you’d like to make the bars with the blueberry filling, here’s Paige’s recipe for the filling:
6 ounces mixed berries, fresh or frozen
6 ounces blueberries, fresh or frozen
4 ounces sugar
juice of half a lemon
Place berries in a medium saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened—you will have 1 1/4 cups of thick berry sauce.
Want more cookies? Check out the links to all the other Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies bakers below.