Today we have a guest post from Barb of Creative Culinary. I’ve talked about Barb in previous posts here since becoming friends with her through Twitter, #baketogether, #goaterie and our mutual love of food. Barb is a web developer as well as a food blogger who lives in Colorado. Oh, did I also mention she runs an online boutique as well?? She is one busy busy lady! Barb has an amazing writing voice that just exudes her love of good food, sharing that passion with other people and is just the type of person that makes you want to be a part of whatever project she’s involved with. You can follow her on Twitter @CreativCulinary and you’ll also find her on Facebook. Today she gives us a recipe for Toffee Apple Bars that just beckons us to fall into Autumn. Enjoy!
I was touched when Kate asked if I would do a guest post for her blog. Especially knowing she would be tending to a newborn; my maternal genes kicked in with a, ‘Sure, would love to.’ If I’m not mistaken, Kate and I met through #baketogether, an initiative by the lovely Abby Dodge that allows a group of us (and yes, you can join!) who, in lieu of actually being able to bake together, take a recipe of Abby’s, put our own spin on it and write a post to share. It’s a fun way to do something together ‘of sorts’ and really does help to build a sense of community in this world of web and Twitter.
When Kate let me know the when, I thought it best to get something done right away; we all know how time literally does seem to fly and I wanted to be prepared and not disappoint my sweet friend. So this post is being written as I sit struggling with the first ‘real’ week of fall. The season might have changed a few weeks ago, but this week? This is the first week of cooler temps, warm fuzzy socks and even this weekend…a dusting of snow in our town!
When the world starts showing an excitement about fall, I have a hard time getting onboard. As much as I welcome the cooler temps, I know that soon after I will be dealing with mountains of leaves I will have to gather and remove from the lawn and I can already anticipate the winter season that will soon follow. As much as I love living in Colorado, the winters can carry some brutal reminders of Mother Nature in all her glory. I’ve never been a skier so there is no big excitement at the advent of snow; maybe less so since my kids are on their own and a snow day could carry with it the feeling of playing hookey with them; sledding, snowmen and soup were always on the agenda.
I know that eventually the change in season will mean a change in the foods we eat and that does start to excite me a bit more. I know I will miss fresh tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries almost too much to bear, but soon realize, again, how much I love sweet potatoes, soups and apples in all of their many varieties. Especially apples with caramel; it really is one of those perfect combinations. A bit of tart, crisp apple, combined with smooth and buttery caramel and I might actually find myself in my version of fall Heaven! Add some chopped nuts and my stubborn about the change soul starts to give in to the inevitable. I’ve made caramel apples in years past and though I LOVE them, I wanted something with the flavor I love packed into a treat that included none of the trepidation or mess that was inherent with making caramel apples. Especially if the new mom wanted to try something with a baby in one hand and a toddler on the floor beneath her!
These were a big hit and I can assure you that everyone in the family loves them. While I was busy writing, my sweet little dog Abbie has scarfed down the two you see in the photo. Yes, from a table I thought too high for her to reach…they are that kind of bar!
Toffee Apple Bars
For the bars:
- 2/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup toffee bits
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup peeled, cored, chopped tart apple; about 1 1/2
For the Caramel Frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
- Place a piece of parchment paper along the bottom of the pan, with some paper overhanging on the two short ends.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes; scraping the dough as needed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined; add the vanilla and beat into dough.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Fold in the chopped apples and toffee bits and spread the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 25- 30 minutes, or until center is set and toothpick inserted into the center come out clean. Place on wire rack to cool completely before slicing or frosting.
- To make the frosting, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, half and half and vanilla and bring the mixture to a boil; cook for one minutes then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.
- Sift in the confectioners sugar until mixture is smooth; you can do this by hand but I was lazy and used my mixer.
- Spread evenly over bars; sprinkle with chopped nuts and let them set at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cutting into squares.
Yield: 16 large or 24 small bars