I will continue to love Autumn more than any season, and I don't think it will ever leave, to which I'm grateful. The vibrant colors alone rap my heartstrings (doesn't take much). And nothing says Fall quite like the wafting aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves. Puddle jumping never seemed so invigorating. Then, there's the visit to the pumpkin patch or apple orchards, while bundled up in "sweater weather" with the crisp air and crunch of the leaves with each step. Oh Autumn, can you stay like this well into late November? Autumn seems to call out, "come inside, bundle up, sip some cider by the fire, and be."
With the busyness of summer feeling a bit nomadic, Autumn let's us know that it's okay to be sedentary, to regroup and develop a game plan (fitting that football is in the Fall) of where you're going next. I'm reminded of traditions being rekindled or brand new ones beginning. I know our family has been like running one 800 meter to the next without a time to catch our breath, much less time to 'know' one another. This season reminds me of how I can make room for the new college student who has moved to town as well; but, it reminds me that if my family is on a constant chase without any reprieve, then it's pointless.
I rarely make dessert specifically to be eaten after dinner, but sometimes having dessert planned with dinner when you're not having guests over can be...well, special. And I think making a dessert for my family, unannounced communicates that I think they're pretty darn special. These Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars are perfect for that. Plus, they taste better the next day. So, you don't have to be in the kitchen making dinner & dessert all for the same meal. They're wonderful, and these little gems are sure to procure you praise for at least a couple of days (reason enough to make them). I would love to hear what you do to usher in Autumn!
Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars (printable recipe)
This recipe is adapted from The Good Cookie cookbook. It reminds me of an apple pie baked from Dutch Mothers in Lynden, WA, but without having to deal with the rolling & chilling that comes from making a pie crust. The key is to let it cool to get the best overall taste.Crust:
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp cold water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound Jonamac apples; peeled, cored, & sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tb apple juice or cider
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tb brandy
4 Tb unsalted butter
1/2 cup rapadura sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup unrefined sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/3 cup rapadura sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Sour Cream Mixture:
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Make the crust: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, & salt, combine 30 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, pulse 6-8 times. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, cold water & vanilla. Then, with the food processor running, add the liquid and combine for 15-20 seconds. Dump the dough into a 9-inch square pan and pat it down evenly with your hands. Bake in preheated oven of 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Make Apple Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the peeled/cored/sliced apples, lemon juice, cornstarch, brandy, & apple juice. Toss it around and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar to cook. Stirring constantly until there are no more lumps. Add the apple mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or till the apples are soft on the outside but still slightly crunchy inside. Empty contents into a bowl and allow to cool completely.
Make the topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon & salt. Add the melted butter and mix with a fork, stirring until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Set aside.
Make the Sour Cream Mixture: In a small bowl, whisk the egg until well blended. Add the sour cream, cinnamon & salt to the whisked egg and whisk till combined.
Assembling the bars: Take the sour cream mixture and combine it with the apple filling. Stir well and spread evenly on the baked crust. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sour cream apple mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set. Cool the bars completely before serving. You can dive right in if you'd like; however, they taste so much better when they're completely cooled.