With September comes a promise of fall. I say “the promise” because in Texas, early September is still as hot as mid-August, which means we’re still enduring 100+ degree days. But school has started, and football has started, and there are mellow-creme pumpkins in the stores and darnit, I am ready for fall! I am on a mission to bake my way through my pinterest pin board of yummy fall flavors, and when I came across these bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction, I knew they were next.
I do a few things differently than Sally when I make shortbread, and the main difference is, I am in love with my food processor for making pastry. I know it’s not seen as proper, and I know it’s too hard on the flour, but darn it, my Cuisinart makes the best pastry dough, every time. Her name is Rosebud. And once I’ve gotten Rosebud out, I attempt to use her for as many steps in the recipe as I can, because I’ve got to wash her anyway, so may as well save a bowl or two. If you don’t have a food processor, or you don’t like this method, you can do it the old fashioned way with a pastry cutter or two knives, but Rosebud is faster and better than I am. There, I said it. I hope you enjoy my take on Sally’s delicious bars.
- 1 cup lightly salted butter, cold, cut into pieces (about 16 pieces)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 apples - Sally recommends a mixture of apples, such as mixing Granny Smith and Pink Lady. I also love Gala apples for baking.
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ tsp apple pie spice
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup lightly salted butter, cut into about 4 pieces
- Add crust ingredients to food processor and pulse until it just comes together as a dough. The advantage of doing it this way is that the butter needs to be kept cold to ensure you have a flaky crust, and this is really fast so the butter doesn't warm up much.
- Press dough into the bottom of a 9x13 glass dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. While it is baking, prepare the apples and streusel.
- Peel apples and cut into slices about ¼" wide. Toss in a large bowl with flour, sugar, and apple pie spice. You may want to use your impeccably clean hands for this (as Julia Child would say). Set aside.
- Here we go again. Dump all those streusel ingredients right into the bowl of the food processor and whirr them up until the butter is chopped up into pea-sized pieces. You're not looking to pulverize the streusel, just pulse it enough to chop up the butter and get it evenly distributed. Again, doing it this way keeps the butter nice and cold so your streusel is crumbly rather than mushy.
- When the crust has finished its par-bake of 20 minutes, pull it out and carefully layer the apple slices on top. You'll need to place them very close together and the pan will seem very crowded with apples, but they do cook down quite a bit. When the apples are in, carefully spread the streusel topping over the top.
- Back to the oven it goes for about 45 minutes, or until the streusel topping is beginning to brown. You'll have to use your nose and intuition a little bit to determine what "done" is for you. Let them cool down, and then cut them when they are still in the pan.
After they’re cut is when you add the salted caramel drizzle. And this drizzle is so easy, simple, and out of this world amazing that it’s hard to believe that it’s so easy to make yourself, right on your stovetop. I can’t explain it any better than Sally does, so here is the link to her recipe. You should make it, right now. In fact, you should make it at least a day prior to making these bars, because it needs time to cool down. I will say that the drizzle gives the best presentation when it’s freshly applied. It sinks in with time, and the bars become a little less visually dazzling. Just a little. The taste is still the same, and the taste is amazing.