I saw this recipe a while back on Jaime of Good Eats Sweets and Treats Blog. I immediately starred this one for fall. When I got an invitation to a neighborhood potluck for National Night Out I knew these bars would be perfect. This is the second recipe I have made from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours and it just amazes me how perfectly the recipes from that book turn out. My previous favorite was my pumpkin variation of the granola grabber cookies. The book is very well written and the directions concise and easy to follow. The helpful hints also make it seem as if Dorie is along side helping. These bars were moist and tender. The base was very cake like. The glaze added a nice sweetness and caramel flavor but the bars were not overly sweet. These would be perfect for a fall picnic in the park or for tailgating. I will definitely be making these again. I can't wait to go try them with the burnt sugar ice cream that Jaime serves hers with. I can only imagine how decadent that would be!
Applesauce Spice Bars
Source: Baking From My Home to Yours: by Dorie Greenspan
For the Bars:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I found organic unsweetened at Whole Foods)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp applejack, brandy, or dark rum (optional) (I omitted)
1 baking apple, such as Rome or Cortland, peeled, cored and finely diced or chopped
1/2 cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted these)
For the Glaze:
2-1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour and put the pan on a baking sheet.
To Make the Bars:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla and applejack, if you're using it, and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is once again smooth. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear, then mix in the apple, raisins and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the bars just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and let the cake cool while you make the glaze.
To Make the Glaze:
In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the man over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Turn the bars out onto a rack, remove the paper and invert the bars onto another rack, so they are right side up. Slide the parchment paper under the rack to serve as a drip catcher, grab a long metal icing spatula and pour the hot glaze over the bars, using the spatula to spread it evenly over the cake. Let them cool to room temperature before you cut them.
Cut into 32 rectangles, each about 2-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches.
Yield: 32 Bars
Storing: These will keep for about 3 days at room temperature. Because of the glaze, they cannot be frozen.