My mom said these are the best things I have ever made, but then again she’s only been here one weekend in the past few months so she missed the chocolate salty balls and the sour cream muffins. Not that she’s incorrect, these were pretty insane. As my coworker said “they’re heaven with caramel on top.” Now that sounds like a pretty good deal!
I got the recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Need I say more? I made them for The Biggest Loser season finale so I could bring them to a viewing party at a friend’s house. I figured if they had apples and applesauce in them, I could pass them off as healthy. Wrong, very wrong.
Since I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to make them between the time I got home from work until when I had to leave to watch the show, I came home at lunchtime to bake them, and then put the caramel glaze on top when I got home from work. As it turns out, and though the directions don’t seem to specify either way, I think it would have spread more easily if the cake were still warm when I glazed it, so don’t let it cool for too long when you make this. Learn from my difficulties!
So not that I was disappointed with these in anyway, but I was surprised they turned out so cake-like because I had been expecting more of a brownie or blondie kind of texture. These were fantastic and almost spongy, so don’t be worried, but it was just different. I guess I’m telling you so you don’t think they came out wrong if they weren’t what you were expecting either, but you should make them and see for yourself.
APPLESAUCE SPICE BARS
- 1 1/4 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (the individual snack packs, like the kind you’d pack in lunch, are 1/2 cup each)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp applejack, brandy, or dark rum – optional, I didn’t use any
- 1 baking apple finely diced or chopped (I used a green apple because it’s all I had)
- 1/2 cup plump raisins (I used golden) – condition (soak) the raisins in some water or even the alcohol too before baking to make them plump and moist
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and prepare a 9×13 baking pan (I used glass) by buttering the dish, placing parchment over the bottom with some overhang, and buttering and flouring the top of the paper. Baking spray worked really well for this.
Whisk together your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter on low. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk to mix the two together and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from heat. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking them util they’re blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla, and alcohol (if using) and whisk until mixture is again smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients and gently stir them in until they just disappear. You don’t need to make sure it’s fully incorporated, because next you’ll be adding in the fruit and nuts and stirring some more so they’re evenly distributed. As I have learned, it’s okay if there are still little pockets of dry goods, they’ll all disappear in baking.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula. The batter is lumpy, so it won’t be perfect, but you want it to be even thickness all along the pan so it bakes evenly.
Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the bars start pulling away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean.
Let the entire pan cool on a rack while you start making the glaze. The glaze is basically caramel, and while the bars would still be extremely tasty without it, who doesn’t want caramel on top of everything?? I know I do.
- 2.5 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2.5 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1tsp light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients save for the vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil whisking frequently. Turn the temperature down to a simmer and cook, still whisking, for another 5 or so minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla, stirring until incorporated and smooth.
Remove the bars from the pan in which they were baked, and invert them so they end up right side up. Using a metal icing spatula, pour the glaze over the tops of the bars and spread evenly. As I mentioned earlier, when I did this step, the bars were too cool so the glaze cooled/hardened pretty immediately, and in certain spots it started tearing at the tops of the bars as I tried to spread it. One more time – your bars should still be warm at this point to make for easy spreading.
Wait til the bars cool to room temp before cutting them into 32 bars (8×4). Since they were so cakelike, I found it easiest to use a bread knife to cut them in a sawing motion. (There are 2 rows missing in the picture below because I packaged those separately. Just wanted to make sure you all know I can count ;))
I should have made a double batch of these. 32 bars sounds like a lot until you see how tiny they are, and just eating one is not enough. I will certainly be making these again.
I rank them evilly as a 3.5, because they were damn good, but they still had some fruit in them 😉