Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Spice Bars

A few weeks ago Dave and I went to the King Arthur Flour store in Norwich, Vermont and yes it was everything I imagined and more.  They are undergoing a huge expansion/renovation which instilled an even more compelling urge to visit again for a class.  I had a short list of specialty ingredients I wanted to buy (and a long list of "things I want but shouldn't buy because that would be frivolous").  One of those things was cinnamon oil.  I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it--maybe a cinnamon frosting, perhaps in cookies or blondies--but I knew it was apple season and I needed it.  So the next day, after several failed attempts at baking (as in I wanted to make something only to find I was missing a key ingredient, like zucchini for zucchini bars or oats for oatmeal bars), I scampered to the internet and found this delicious treat for a soft, gently sweet bar that combines the right amount of spice to highlight these perfect fresh from the orchard apples (seriously, we picked them off the tree that morning!).

This recipe comes from Beantown Baker (I know I use her a lot, but she really is this awesome).  I made a few minor adjustments related to the spices by adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking spice, and dropping down the vanilla to a teaspoon and the cinnamon to 1 1/2 teaspoons since I used 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon oil.  This cinnamon oil is delicious and tastes exactly like red hot candies.  Use it sparingly--as wonderful as these turned out, the cinnamon flavor increased over time and completely took over the bars by the time we polished them off (not that it was a bad thing, but if that's not what you want, you might be disappointed).  Next time, I would bump up to two teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon oil (noted in the recipe below).  I also should have baked them a little longer--the middle of my pan was a little undercooked, so I'd bring the total bake time to 40 minutes, checking frequently in the last 10 minutes.

Apple Spice Bars


2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking spice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil (optional)
2 apples (I used Cortlands)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking spice, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about one minute.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.  Add vanilla extract and cinnamon oil, if using, and beat to incorporate.

Peel, core and dice apples.

Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture in batched until all is combined.

Fold in apples then spread mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 3 inch pan.  Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and top bounces back slightly to the touch, checking often in the last 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack before cutting.  Bars will be very soft and may potentially ask for an ice cream companion.

Makes 24 bars.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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