Everyone wins when renowned chef and TV host Ina Garten launches a new cookbook. She wrote her newest collection in honor of the dishes her husband, Jeffrey, loves most of all, which means we’re sure to love them, too. Ina Garten’s apple pie bars are a simple way to get a beloved dessert on the table, fast!
When I bought my specialty food store, Barefoot Contessa, Jeffrey took me on a grand tour of food stores in California looking for inspiration, including a visit to the iconic Oakville Grocery in Napa Valley. I was there again recently and they were making apple pie bars — what a great idea! I worked on my version of the bars with two kinds of apples, tart Granny Smiths and sweet Golden Delicious. One large batch of buttery shortbread makes both the crust and the crumble topping.
Make ahead: Bake, cool completely, wrap tightly, and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Use a metal measuring cup to make the corners.
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 pounds granny smith apples (3 large), peeled, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8-inch-thick
- 1 1/2 pounds golden delicious apples (3 large), peeled, quartered and sliced 1/8 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the apple pie bars
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and 1⁄2 inch up the sides (see note). Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the walnuts and cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.
Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
For the filling, combine the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border.
Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Cool completely and cut into bars.