Apples provide so many delicious options for snacking, baking, and even savory dishes. There are more than 7,500 known varieties of apples grown worldwide and about 2,500 varieties grown in the United States—with Washington, Michigan, and New York the top three states in apple production. Of those, a small number of varieties accounts for the lion’s share of commercial production. Lucky for us, it’s harvest time for local apples, and bushels of our favorite varieties from near and far are waiting for enjoying on their own and in recipes such as the bars here, courtesy of the Washington Apple Commission. Certain apples will keep their shape and lend just the right tart or sweet element to recipes. This one calls for Honeycrisp, which is ripe for the picking.
Apple Fun Facts
Did you know that John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was a real person and one of the reasons we have so many apples today? Throughout the early 1800s, Chapman planted and owned many acres of apple orchards along America’s western frontier and sold and traded apple trees.
Here are some tidbits from Washington Apples to chew on while you’re preparing this recipe:
- Apples float because they are 85 percent water.
- It takes the energy from 50 apple tree leaves to produce one apple.
- The average apple contains 5 seeds.
- The science of growing apples is called pomology.
- The star-shaped bottom of an apple is called its calyx.
Caramel Apple Pie Bars
Makes 12 servings | Recipe courtesy Washington Apple Commission
Apple crisp meets caramel apple pie to make these caramel apple pie bars. Tender cooked apples top a simple shortbread cookie and are topped with a crumbly topping that’s made with leftover shortbread ingredients.
For the Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup refrigerated butter, divided
½ cup granulated sugar
½ heaping teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the Topping
½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup cold butter
For the Filling
2 Honeycrisp apples
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup caramel sauce
- Heat oven to 350°F. Cube butter. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add all crust ingredients to a stand mixer or food processor, mix until butter is evenly distributed. Mixture will be sandy.
- Pour ½ crust mixture into baking pan, press down with the flat bottom of a 1 cup measuring cup. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until shortbread crust looks like a cookie, as in it looks like it’s forming a crust. It may not brown; that’s fine.
- While crust is cooking, add topping ingredients to remaining crust ingredients, mix until it begins to crumble. Refrigerate until use.
- Next, prepare filling by coring apples and thinly slicing them. Add thinly sliced apples to medium mixing bowl, add remaining filling ingredients (minus caramel sauce) to bowl and mix until all apples are coated. Set aside.
- Once crust is cooked, spread apple mixture into an even layer on top of crust. Sprinkle topping over apples and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until topping is golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before you cut and serve them. Drizzle with caramel sauce prior to serving. Refrigerate, covered, these will keep for up to 4 or 5 days.
Hungry for More?
Check out both savory and sweet apple recipes and more in the current fall issue of Real Food at Lunds & Byerlys stores now and on their website here.
Minnesota Apple Harvest, Orchard Info, and More Recipes
Link to a dozen apple-centric recipes I highlighted in last week’s post plus where to find locally grown apples here.