I have had an exhausting and emotionally draining few weeks, so I turned to baking this weekend to cheer myself up. Baking is the perfect recovery activity: it allows me to focus on something that is both time and attention consuming and unrelated to work and personal life. Plus, I get to eat afterwards. I may have eaten too much this weekend, however. I am now on sugar detox.
These apple-pear bars were my best product. The recipe is from The Good Cookie, with a couple very small changes. I am producing it in sections, since there are several different steps.
Apple-pear dessert bars
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I always use unbleached, but either is fine)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2-3 teaspoons ice water (I used 1.5—start with 1 and add more if necessary)
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions for crust:
- Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch square pan.
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until blended. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 6 seconds.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk, 1 tsp water, and vanilla. With the food processor running, add the yolk mixture through the opening and process until the dough begins to come together in large clumps, 15-20 seconds (add more water as needed, but be careful to keep dough crumbly—this makes the crust nice and flaky).
- Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake 20-25 minutes.
- Cool completely before adding other pieces of the recipe. Leave the oven on at same temperature for later baking.
**NOTE: If using a dark pan, bake at a lower temperature (@325 degrees) and at the lower end of the time range. The crust should be slightly browning around the edges, and fairly light in the middle.
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 1 pear
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons frozen juice concentrate
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons pear brandy
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown butter
Instructions for filling:
- Peel and core the apples and pear, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, apple concentrate, cornstarch, and pear brandy and toss to combine.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly until any lumps of sugar are broken up.
- Add the apple mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples are softened on the outside but still crunchy on the inside. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Instructions for topping:
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt until well blended.
- Add the melted butter and mix with a fork, stirring until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and mixture is uniformly moistened.
Sour cream mixture
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cups chopped raisins
Instructions for sour cream mixture:
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg until blended.
- Whisk in the sour cream, cinnamon, salt, and raisins.
- Pour the sour cream mixture into the cooled apple and pear mixture, and stir to combine.
- Spread evenly over the crust.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Press down lightly with your hand.
- Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and set (again, you may need a lower temperature and less time for a dark pan—I kept my oven at 325 and baked for 30 minutes).
- Cool the bars completely in the pan, set on a wire rack. This may take a few hours. Be patient, because they will not retain their shape until completely cooled (even then, they will remain soft, but they should take on a bar shape if handled carefully).
- Cut the bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Voila! They do take some time investment, but they are worth it.