Today's recipe is for apple lovers. That's because the depth of apple flavor and moist texture of these bars is over the top! There's a secret ingredient that elevates these above your normal apple bar.
That secret ingredient is Apple Cider Syrup. It's a natural sweetener with intense apple flavor that is the perfect addition to many recipes, and especially this one. It's added to both the batter and the glaze of these apple bars. I explained how to make Apple Cider Syrup in a previous post. It's super easy. So whip up a batch of syrup and then move on to this recipe for Gooey Apple Bars.
When I served these to my family, there was much discussion over what this dessert should be called. Bars? Gooey Cake? Coffee Cake? Apple Blondies? Sheet Cake? I settled on a combination of these. Gooey Butter Cake is a thing in St. Louis, so Gooey had to make the list as a nod to my home town. One thing I know for sure is that whatever you call it, this dessert was a hit that I will be making again.
Healthified (kinda). Not healthy, mind you, but healthiER than similar desserts. It does have butter (although a reduced amount) and a generous amount of sugar. I used whole wheat flour and added some flaxseed meal to give it a nutrition boost. (Believe me, no one will know it.) And, the apples are good for you. But, if you're limiting carbs and sugars, this may not be the recipe for you. Just because it's whole-grain, that doesn't make it diet food. But, splurge worthy? Yes!
Nutritional Information per serving (recipe cut into 12 bars): 339 calories, 9.9g fat, 299mg sodium, 61.7g carbs, 42.2g sugars, 3.5g fiber, 3.2g protein. High in vitamin B6. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 9
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients
Step 2. Melt the butter, but don't overheat--it shouldn't be hot when you add it to the other ingredients (otherwise, you could end up with cooked scrambled eggs). Microwave the butter until almost completely melted, then stir until the last bits melt in. This takes 25 seconds in my microwave. Set aside to cool more as you assemble the other ingredients.
Step 3. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, salt, baking soda. Set aside.
view on Amazon: wire whisk
Step 4. In separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider syrup, and vanilla; whisk until mixture is a uniform color. (You can use an electric mixer for this, if you like. I personally find it easier to use the whisk for simple mixing like this.)
view on Amazon: 8-cup measuring/mixing bowl
Step 5. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until well combined with a uniform color throughout.
view on Amazon: rubber spatula (sturdy for stirring this batter and heat tolerant for stove-top cooking)
Step 6. Stir in the chopped apples, and spread it evenly in a sprayed or greased 9x13 cooking pan. I used a shallow baking sheet for easier cutting, but it's fine to use a regular baking pan with taller sides.
view on Amazon: baking sheet set (I have 2 sets of these versatile pans and use them frequently. I use the smaller 9x13 pan for this recipe.)
Step 7. Bake until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center has moist crumbs.
Step 8. As the bars cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients: powdered sugar, maple syrup, apple cider syrup, and cinnamon. Easy--no cooking required.
Step 9. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bars; spread it evenly over the top. After a bit, some of the glaze will seep into the holes.
Tip for cutting tidy bars. Any time you have a sticky frosting or glaze, cutting the bars by dragging a knife through them can make a mess of them. They'll still taste great; but if you want a tidier presentation, try this. Use a pastry scraper/chopper, coat the blade with cooking spray, and make vertical, down and up cuts, wiping the blade and respraying after each cut. It may sound like a hassle, but if you cut all of the bars at once, it doesn't take long. It makes it so much easier and prettier to serve these when they're cut evenly and neatly.
view on Amazon: pastry scraper/chopper
These apple bars are perfect with coffee or tea for a mid morning break.
My family loved them when I served them for dessert after dinner. King-Man prefers his warmed slightly in the microwave and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Store bars uncovered for 2-3 days. Yes, you read that right--uncovered. Most glazes don't hold up well once they're covered. (Have you ever covered glazed donuts overnight and discovered that the glaze has melted to a wet coating by the next day? Yuck.) The moisture from the bars will begin to dissolve the glaze eventually. These bars are best when freshly made and glazed. But, if you have leftover apple bars and want them to maintain a firm glaze, leave them uncovered. I tested these stored uncovered both at room temperature on the counter and in the fridge. Both held up well, so take your pick. (The fridge will keep pets and pests away.) Even though it may be counter intuitive, the bars won't dry out and the glaze will be firm (not hard) and won't dissolve and become "wet" if they're stored uncovered.
view on Amazon: small spatula (perfect for removing cookies, bars, & cakes from pans)
It's hard to describe just how flavorful these are. They're moist, gooey, and apple-icious to the max!
Make it a Yummy day!