Apple Cinnamon Bars

These chewy bars use apple butter to stand in for much of the fat you'd normally find in a bar cookie. Their robust apple flavor is out in front, with just enough sweetness to make them equally welcome for a snack as dessert. For a change, try making with them pumpkin butter instead of apple butter; the pumpkin is an excellent partner for the whole-grain flour in the recipe.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
25 to 35 mins
Total
55 mins
Yield
16 bars
Apple Cinnamon Bars

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" square pan, or line with a parchment paper "sling" and spray with nonstick spray.

  2. For the bars: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until soft. Add the egg and boiled cider (if using) beat until fluffy.

  3. Add the apple (or pumpkin) butter and mix to combine.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, dried apples, and nuts. Stir into the butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and mix for 30 seconds more.

  5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

  6. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

  7. Once cool, loosen the edges and use the sling to pull the slab out of the pan to cut and glaze.

  8. For the glaze (if using): Stir together the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

  9. Add the boiled cider (or milk) and stir until smooth, adding a few drops more milk as needed\ to achieve a good consistency for drizzling.

  10. Drizzle over each square to glaze.

  11. Store, covered, for 5 days on the counter. Freeze for up to a month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make pumpkin butter, place one 15-ounce can of pumpkin in a small saucepan or microwave-safe dish. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick and dark brown. Or cook in the microwave on high heat for about 12 minutes — turn the microwave on in 4-minute increments, stirring after each 4 minutes.
  • Note: Due in part to varying amounts of liquid and sugar in each type of apple or pumpkin butter we tried, the baking time varied considerably. Also, using a dark-colored pan will decrease the baking time, while a light-colored pan will take longer.
  • This recipe comes to us from John Blair and Lucy Jane Webster of Toledo, Ohio.
  • If you don't have sweet apple butter, cook 4 to 5 large apples until soft, run them through a food mill (or press them through a strainer), then cook them over low heat until reduced to a thick, medium-brown paste. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. You may also use prepared applesauce reduced in the same way: begin with 2 cups of applesauce, add the spices, and cook it down until it's thick and dark brown.