Hello again! I hope everyone is getting back to a normal schedule and normal eating habits! I’m still on break from school, I can’t believe this is my last Christmas break ever (more on that later)! And I requested some time off work, so I’ve just been hanging out with my family. I’ve seen Sherlock Holmes and We Bought a Zoo, which is the most I’ve been in a movie theater in a long time. Tomorrow my brother’s girlfriend (whom I adore) is arriving to spend New Years with Us! She only visits when my brother comes home, and he’s so busy that he doesn’t get home often. So I’m excited to see her! But anyway, on to today’s post. Since it’s still technically the holidays, I thought I’d publish my first baking post (the one minute chocolate cake doesn’t count!).
The great thing about cooking is that you can experiment. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out so well, but other times it’s a huge success. Baking is different though, it’s far more precise. and sometimes something as simple as over stirring the ingredients can change the outcome. That’s partly why baking is an area of cooking that I haven’t ventured very far into yet. Furthermore, baking is “extra.” The results of baking usually can’t be eaten for main meals and they’re also usually very tempting and unfortunately high in calories.
Nevertheless, I’ve gotten interested in trying more baking. Maybe it has something to do with the impending holidays (I wrote this entry quite awhile back!). Baking just seems to go hand in hand with cold weather and the spirit of the holidays. So far I’ve only made one attempt at baking beyond brownies from a box and they turned out really well
I may share the recipe for these pumpkin spice cookies eventually, but for now it’s going to be my little secret. Every good cook has to have some secrets I definitely want to expand my repertoire of baked goods beyond this one recipe though. Enter hot apple crumble bars.
A few weekends ago I was at my parents’ house having lunch and getting my dad’s help on my thesis. My mom had purchased a bunch of apples from a nearby orchard, so she gave me four to take home. Coincidentially, when I checked my e-mail later that day, there was an e-mail letting me know that Chocolate Covered Katie had posted a new recipe for hot apple crumble bars. Lightbulb moment! I could slice up the apples my mom gave me and eat them with peanut butter or on a bagel thin with melted provolone cheese and cinnamon, or I could try out this delicious looking recipe. I bet you can guess what I did!
Katie is vegan and also tries to make healthier desserts. But she made this particular recipe for people used to “regular” desserts, so it’s a little higher in sugar. Here is the original recipe if you’d like to know how to make it with less sugar and fat. I decided to go with the original amount of sugar and substituted dairy milk and butter for vegan versions, so I’ll write out the recipe here as I made it.
Hot Apple Crumble Bars
*Since the apples have to be peeled, this recipe is a little time intensive. But as far as difficulty goes, it definitely isn’t too hard for a beginner
1.5 cups flour (any kind is fine)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs cold butter (I realized tonight that I don’t have a 1/4 cup measure. I don’t know if that’s unusual, but in case you’re in the same boat, 7 Tbs is the equivalent)
2 Tbs milk
2 cups peeled, chopped apple (approximately two small apples)
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbs maple syrup (or agave)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a bowl, mix together the first 8 ingredients. I started with a mixer, but because there’s almost no liquid in here, even the lowest setting on my mixture threw up quite a bit of flour. So once the mixer had sufficiently broken up the butter to create little crumbs, I mixed in any remaining flour with a spoon
3. Scoop approximately 2/3 of the dough into a greased 4×7″ dish and press down firmly (I used a bigger dish, and while they turned out just fine, they were much thinner than the picture of Katie’s bars)
4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until the apples are well coated and the baking powder has dissolved. spread the apple mixture evenly over the crust you created (there will be some extra liquid from the vanilla extract and syrup, I just tried to make sure this was evenly distributed over the crust as well)
5. Use the rest of the dough to cover the apples and press down gently. Bake for 45 minutes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store tightly covered if you want softer bars or uncovered if you want them crispier. Enjoy!
Something about warm apples and cinnamon just seems to embody all the wonderful tastes, smells, and feel-good emotions of Fall. And oh my God do these smell amazing when they’re baking!