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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Applesauce Spice Bars

My brother got me Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours for Christmas. It is such a beautiful cookbook -- full of gorgeous desserts that I couldn't wait to try out. I wanted a simple dessert that I could put together quickly last night with what I had in my pantry. Applesauce spice bars were just the thing.

These bars may be simple, but they are absolutely delicious. The cake is moist and light, the chunks of apples and raisins add interest and the caramel-ly glaze is excellent. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and you have the perfect treat.

Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T dark rum
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced (I used Gala)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 1/2 T heavy cream
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 T unsalted butter
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Add sugar and whisk until the sugar melts and becomes smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly until well blended. Whisk in applesauce, vanilla and rum. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until combined. Add diced apple, raisins, and nuts and stir briefly. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth out the top with the spatula. Bake approximately 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

When bars are cool, mix glaze. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add sugar, corn syrup, and cream. Whisk frequently until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, continue to whisk frequently. Remove pan from heat and add vanilla. The mixture will foam slightly when you stir in the vanilla.

Top pan with wire rack and invert to transfer to rack. Top bars with a sheet of parchment paper and a cake plate or 2nd rack and invert again to turn bars right-side up.

Pour hot glaze over the bars and spread into a thin, even layer. Let glaze cool before cutting.

(Note: I also substituted 1/4 cup granulated sugar in the cake batter for brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tsp molasses in the glaze, because I only had 3/4 cup brown sugar in the house - if you have the brown sugar there is no need to do this, so I did not include this substitution in the above recipe.)

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