Thursday, October 24, 2013

whole grain spiced apple butter bars

You can currently find me under a blanket, wearing three layers, nestled in the couch, with a steaming cup of tea by my side. I promise I'm not complaining. I love the coziness these chilly fall days bring...even if I can't currently feel my toes. On this blustery fall day, I'm craving anything warm and spiced to fight the chill. Warm apple cider. Orange hot tea. Anything soupy and slurpable. And these whole grain spiced apple butter bars!

The bars are adapted from the Weelicious Lunches cookbook by Catherine McCord who operates the fabulous blog, Weelicious. It's a lovely cookbook for anyone looking to jazz up their wee one's lunch or bring some variety to your own brown bag. The original recipe can be found here. I made it the week it was posted and it was good! The perfect 3:00 snack - buttery, fruity, and filling. I made it again a few weeks later, but this time I added some spice to give it a little something extra. The result was still buttery, fruity, filling, but spicey and fall-like.

Then I decided to take these bars a step further and exchange the jam for apple butter. Why? Because a love for apple butter is a genetic condition in our family. And although I'm perfectly satisfied to continue slathering it on toast, I'm always looking for new places to use it. It was even the feature ingredient in the first recipe I posted a year ago!

Anyway friends, these bars are little squares of fall bursting with flavor, spice, butter, and goodness. You could even say they are kind of healthy with all those whole grains minus the butter...and sugar...and the sugar in the apple butter... But really when you compare that to all those preservatives and additives in store-bought bars then clearly these bars win! In my world, homemade always wins. every. single. time.

1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
2 tbsp. cold water
3/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 c. apple butter
I just realized I never took the manufacturer sticker off the base. Well, in case you were wondering the base is made of elegant brushed stainless finish...
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, and spices in food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
3. Add butter pieces and water. Process until the dough holds together. 
4. Line a 9in x 13in baking pan with parchment.
5. Press half of the dough into the pan making sure the whole bottom is covered evenly. You can use a spatula, I just use my fingers. 
6. Spread apple butter gently over the surface of the dough in the pan. Be careful not to upset the bottom layer too much.
7. Sprinkle the remaining dough on top of the apple butter and press slightly. It's ok if you can see little bits of apple butter peeking through the dough.
8. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. 
9. Let cool on a cooling rack then cut into squares (18) or rectangles (12).
Store at room temperature for three days or in the fridge for up to a week. I've found the bars also keep well in the freezer. 
P.S. These disappear quickly!

Check out other mouthwatering eats over at the Southern Fairytale blog!