Count me in for any dessert that tastes like pie, with a fraction of the effort. These loaded apple pie bars are so, so good and the perfect way to welcome in Fall.
As a dietitian, I get asked all the time about dessert. What are healthy baking swaps? How can I make my family’s favorite recipes more nutritious? Can I have dessert everyday? As someone who loves chocolate and buttercream frosting as much as I do broccoli, I understand the desire to make treats part of a healthy lifestyle.
Surprisingly enough, I don’t always recommend the healthier options. Yes, there are ways to make treats a little more wholesome: subbing in whole-wheat pastry flour, switching to natural sweeteners, and so on. There is a time and a place for those versions and for the most part, I try to sneak in a small change to even my most decadent desserts. However, it’s also completely OK to enjoy the real thing. Real sugar, regular flour, butter and all.
As I’ve mentioned a few times before, allowing yourself to eat what you truly want is powerful, and I bet you eat less of it when you do. If you know that you will always be able to eat a brownie (or these apple pie bars), then the desire to “sneak” one while no one is looking or eat a few because “the diet begins tomorrow” doesn’t happen. Knowing this also allows you to choose what you truly want. I eat dessert, often, though it’s usually just enough to keep me satisfied and of course, it’s what I really, truly want. The want to overeat them is gone, as I know I can always have more later. (PS- if this sounds just crazy enough for you to consider eating this way, consider joining October’s Joyful Eating, Nourished Life group.)
Now, let’s make some pie bars.
I’ve officially crossed the one year anniversary of my time in St. Louis, which completely boggles my mind. I know I’ve been here long enough to establish a routine, meet a forever friend, finish the updates on our house and able to get to at least 20 places without the need for GPS. At the same time, it feels like only yesterday we left California.
My family came out to visit me a few weeks ago, and it felt really good to be able to take them to our usual “spots.” The bar where BL and I often walk to after a grueling day, my favorite place for coffee and donuts and to Eckert’s Farm, just outside of town where we can pick our own fruits and vegetables.
I love farm tours and getting to pick items straight from the tree, vine, bush or ground. There is such a visceral connection to seeing how food is grown, especially for young kids. We had my three-year-old niece with us and watching her light up as she yanked an apple off the tree was priceless. Of course, the adults had fun too- mostly talking about all the yummy treats we were planning on making with our bounty. Homemade apple sauce, apple chips, apple cake and of course- these apple pie bars.
Similar to my peach pie bars from earlier this year, these apple pie bars are almost foolproof. Make a quick dough using flour, oats and enough butter and water to hold it together. Since I want everyone to be able to enjoy these bars, I opted for vegan butter from Earth Balance. It tastes just like regular butter, but completely dairy-free. Press half of the crust into a square baker, then top with gently cooked, spiced apples and the rest of the crust. Bake until golden brown, then remove and let cool completely.
Honestly, that’s the hardest step in this whole recipe- letting the bars cool completely. It’s so tempting to cut into them when they are still barely warm, but you risk the filling oozing out. Once they bars have cooled all the way, they are set! Ready to be sliced and eaten.
I hope you enjoy these bars as much as we did! We ended up making a few batches of these (had to be sure they were just perfect), ate a few then gifted them to friends and neighbors. That’s my favorite thing about making desserts, everyone loves receiving them! It’s the perfect way to say hi, you’re great, and thinking of you. xo
For my St. Louis friends, I’m gifting a $25 gift card to Eckert’s Farm (this post is not sponsored, I just really like Eckert’s!) over on Instagram today! Enter to win so you can pick fresh apples too.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!Print
Apple Pie Bars! These bars taste just like apple pie- with a fraction of the work! Whole-wheat and oat crust with seasoned apples.
- 1 cup flour (I used half regular and half whole-wheat pastry)
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ⅓ cup + 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 7 tablespoons butter (I used vegan butter, I love Earth Balance sticks)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 4 apples, chopped
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 8×8″ baking dish with cooking spray or overlapping parchment paper for easy removal.
- Whisk together 1 cup flour, rolled oats, 1/3 cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon in the base of a food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl.
- Add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, either pulsing the butter into the food processor or cut the butter into the dough using a dough cutter until crumbly.
- Add in the water and pulse or stir until the dough comes together.
- Remove ¾ cup of the dough and set aside.
- Press the rest of the dough into the prepared pan.
- Stir together the chopped apples, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cornstarch, nutmeg and the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar until well combined and place in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until apples are soft and mixture has come together, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly then pour on the prepared crust.
- Mix together the remaining dough with chopped walnuts and sprinkle on top.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. The bars need to cool completely for the filling to set.
- Slice into 12 bars and serve.