The apples have arrived and you guys, I am pretty excited.
Actually, I am just excited in general. These next four months are my most favorite time of year. So much to be excited for and to look forward to (especially this year with the barn completion!) and so many of my favorite foods. Do not get me wrong, I love summer berries, tomatoes, squashes and all the light + colorful meals that come along with summer, but fall, with all of its cozy comfort foods, will always be my thing.
I am a huge comfort person. I like comfy clothes, comfy blankets, a comfy home (do you think our cool mountain weather could possibly have anything to do with this? My grandfather says that man was not fit to live at 10,000 feet!) and most of importantly, comfort foods. And when I say comfort foods, I do not just mean all the cheesy, heavy stuff, I really just mean warm, baked or stewed foods. They can still be lite and healthy, but just as long as they have a nice warm touch to them I am good.
So with that said, I am SO ready for fall.
Don’t hate me. Summer peeps, I am sorry. I just love fall.
Bring on all the apples, pumpkins, fall squash and pomegranates. I am all in… but since it is still September and some of you still have crazy hot temps, and since technically fall does not start for another whole two weeks (it’s late this year – lame), I will stick with apples for this week. Besides, September should be all about apples anyway.
So basically prepare for an apple overload. Or well, at least that is what I am hopping for, this is the one and only apple recipe I have actually made thus far. The rest of my pounds and pounds of honeycrisp apples have been consumed straight up. Delish.
Ok, ok, ok, but these bars. They actually started out as this whole “one pan apple crisp bars w/ pecan streusel” idea, but then I was like “ah, I need to add some brown butter”. Then the first batch came out of the oven and I was like “ooh, I really need to caramelize those apples”. Then well, yeah, I no longer had a one skillet, one bowl, one pan kind of apple crisp bar. Sorry for making you do dishes, but I promise it’s worth it.
AND besides the browned butter, these bars are actually pretty healthy. They are loaded with oats, whole wheat flour, low sugar and healthy nuts. Oh and um, duh, tons of sweet apples!
Bars for breakfast with a side of greek yogurt, or – bars for dessert with a side of ice cream, or – bars for a snack… also with a side of ice cream!
They may be a tad crumbly on top due to all the streusel, but the bottom layer should stay nice and firm. I cut my bars into larger granola size bars, but I actually recommend cutting them into smaller squares. I think the smaller squares will stay together a little better and be easier to store.
I used a mix of granny smith and honeycrisp apples, but you can use whatever your favorite apple to bake with is. I highly recommend honeycrisp and pink lady apples, they add a little different flavor than the typical granny smith.
That was a total last-minute thing because, while the bars were pretty good on their own, they still seemed a little boring. When things seem boring, that’s when I call for the glaze. Glazes, drizzles and sauces make the food world a better place. You know, in case you where wondering.
This glaze is SO SIMPLE, but I love it. It is literally just mascarpone (you can swap cream cheese if needed), maple syrup and a little vanilla extract. Another reminder to me that simple always wins.
Brown Butter Caramelized Apple Crisp Bars w/Pecan Streusel + Mascarpone Maple Glaze.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter divided
- 4-5 honeycrisp or granny smith apples chopped
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar divided
- 3 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon divided
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut optional
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper or grease with butter/oil.
In a heavy-bottomed 10-12 inch skillet add 14 tablespoons (1 stick plus 6 Tbs) butter and melt over medium heat until just browned. Butter will melt, foam, and froth, and then begin to brown along the bottom. Whisk the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Pour the butter into a large glass or other heat safe mixing bowl, set aside.
Using the same skillet used to brown the butter, heat the skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Now add the apples, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 8-10 minutes or until the apples are caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, oats, white whole wheat flour, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, pecans, shredded coconut, maple syrup and vanilla to the bowl with the brown butter. Mix well until everything is moistened. Press all but one cup of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. The layer will be thin. Spread the caramelized apples over the oats layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of oat mixture over top the apples. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bars are light and golden and crisp on top. Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting.
Meanwhile mix together the mascarpone, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Once the bars are cool, cut into 12-24 bars. The top will be crumbly, but the bottom should hold together. For an easier eat and serving, cut the bars into 24 smaller squares. Enjoy with plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream if desired.
Another winner? Warm apple crisp bars and vanilla ice cream… they take away any possibility of a Tuesday being boring!