Apple Pie Bars. These multilayered dessert bars feature a brown sugar vanilla bean blondie base, caramelized apples, pecan streusel, and penuche frosting.
Why You Should Make These Dessert Bars
- they’re delicious and perfect for year-round entertaining
- the caramelized apples, streusel and penuche frosting can all be prepared in advance of dessert bar construction.
- the dessert bars are delicious warm from the oven, making the frosting an indulgent option.
- they are very rich, so a little bar goes a long way
How To Make These Apple Pie Bars
I start by getting the apples going. Two or three Honeycrisp apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced. The apple slices go into a large skillet in a single layer. They are sautéed in a couple tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. I add a pinch or two of ground cinnamon as they begin to simmer. I stir and flip the apples every few moments.
Once the apples take on a little color and begin to soften, I pour in some apple cider or juice. Water works fine, as well. The apples poach while the liquid slowly burns off. I remove the apples from the heat and allow them to cool. Once cool, the apples are finely diced.
While the apples are caramelizing, I prepare the streusel. Whole pecans are toasted for 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees F. I mix some light brown sugar with ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Cold, cubed butter is cut in with a fork, fingers, or pastry cutter. The whole toasted pecans are added and tossed to coat in the brown sugar mixture. The streusel is chilled until ready to use.
The blondie base is the same base I use for our popular cinnamon roll blondies.
All-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and fine sea salt are whisked together in a small bowl, and set aside.
Melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla bean paste are added to a stand mixer and beaten on low briefly to thoroughly combine and achieve a smooth mixture. Alternately, the task can be accomplished with a whisk.
The flour mixture is folded into the sugar mixture and transferred to a parchment paper lined 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. I like to cut a piece of parchment that covers the bottom and two sides. This gives me a handle to help release the dessert bars once baked and frosted.
The diced caramelized apples are sprinkled in an even layer over the blondie batter. The cold streusel is sprinkled over the apples in an even layer.
The dessert bars are baked in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
The dessert bars are cooled completely. You can stop here and serve these apple pie blondies or go the extra step of topping them with penuche frosting.
A stick of butter is melted on low heat in a small saucepan. Brown sugar is added to the saucepan and the mixture is cooked for 2 minutes, while stirring frequently. Milk is added to the sugar mixture, the temperature is raised, and the mixture is brought to a boil. The sugar mixture is allowed to cool until barely warm. Once cooled down, the warm mixture is added to a stand mixer. Powdered sugar is added and the frosting is beaten on low for 5 minutes. The frosting is spread evenly over the cooled dessert bars.
The dessert bars can be covered and stored at room temperature for a few days, or covered and stored in the refrigerator. The dessert bars are sliced into individual bars. I topped my bars with warm caramsl sauce and finely chopped pecans.
Other Dessert Bar Recipes You Might Enjoy
Some of our most popular dessert bars include blueberry crumble bars, blondies with dark chocolate and macadamia nuts, cinnamon roll blondies, fresh cherry brownies with almonds, and no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal bars.
Apple Pie Bars
- 2 each Honeycrisp or other baking apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 35 grams light brown sugar (3 tablespoons)
- 28 grams unsalted butter (2 tablespoons)
- 3 grams ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
- 60 grams apple juice, apple cider or water (1/4 cup)
- 100 grams whole pecans (1 cup)
- 25 grams light brown sugar (2 tablespoons)
- 2 grams ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 gram ground nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
- 42 grams unsalted butter (3 tablespoons), cold + cubed
- 160 grams all-purpose flour (1-1/4 cups)
- 4 grams baking powder (3/4 teaspoon)
- 1 gram ground cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon)
- 2 grams fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- 140 grams unsalted butter (1-1/4 sticks OR 10 tablespoons), melted
- 150 grams granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 100 grams granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 100 grams egg (2 large)
- 10 grams vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (2 teaspoons)
- 113 grams unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
- 60 grams whole milk (1/4 cup)
- 200 grams light brown sugar (1 cup)
- 220 grams powdered sugar (1-3/4 cups)
- Add sliced apples, light brown sugar, unsalted butter, and ground cinnamon to large skillet. Sauté apples over low heat for about 5 minutes stirring and flipping the apple slices every few minutes.
- Add apple cider to skillet. Simmer apple pieces until apples are soft and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and cool. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange pecans in single layer on baking sheet. Toast pecans for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool completely.
- Add light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and cold cubed unsalted butter to small bowl. Cut the butter in using a fork or pastry cutter.
- Add the cooled pecans to the bowl and stir to coat pecans with streusel mixture.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving enough parchment on the two opposite ends to create handles for lifting the dessert bars out of the pan. Set aside.
- Add all-purpose flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and fine sea salt to small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add melted butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, egg, and vanilla bean paste to stand mixer. Beat on low until smooth.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and fold the flour mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth with offset spatula, if necessary.
- Sprinkle the diced apples in a single layer over the blondie batter.
- Sprinkle the chilled streusel over the diced apples in a single layer.
- Bake blondies in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of dessert bars comes out clean.
- Remove baking pan from oven and cool bars completely in pan on wire rack.
- Add unsalted butter to small saucepan. Melt over low heat.
- Add light brown sugar to saucepan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Raise the heat to medium. Add the milk to the saucepan and stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool until the mixture is slightly warm, about 15 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar mixture to a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar. Start on low to combine, and then beat on medium for 5 minutes.
- Spread frosting evenly over completely cooled dessert bars. Allow frosting to set for at least an hour.
- Remove bars from baking pan by running paring knife along edges, tilting pan slightly and using parchment paper handle to lift the bars up and slide out of pan.