For a few years time I hated applesauce and butterscotch pudding. Basically from the age of 17-20 or so I couldn’t stand the stuff. It reminded me of my tonsillectomy when I was 17 because all I subsisted on for the days following that surgery was pudding, applesauce, lukewarm chicken broth and large amounts of ground up Oxycontin. Most kids get a laptop or money when they graduate highschool. Me? I got to have incredibly painful surgery. In fact the timing lined up with my 17th birthday so it wasn’t just a graduation gift, but a birthday present as well.
There is a very big lie associated with getting your tonsils removed. TV and people always make a big deal out of how you get to live off ice cream afterwards. They are all frelling lying to you. Ice Cream HURTS after that surgery. It’s just too damn cold on your throat and makes you want to die. Biggest let down of my life. I had to eat foods that were at room temperature to even be able to handle it.
Upside: I lost weight. Downside:I spent the week following conscious only long enough to eat my tablespoon of soft food which really only served as a delivery vehicle for crushed drugs.
But no more do I abhor applesauce. Butterscotch pudding and I still have a shaky relationship, but my bad memories of applesauce have since faded enough for me to appreciate its rustic charm and thank goodness I have because I had it on hand to make a batch of Dorie’s Applesauce Spice Bars.
If I didn’t know better I’d think I baked some Oxycontin in with these things. They are habit forming more than any other bar/brownie recipe I’ve ever tried. So I am giving you fair warning: if you are trying to diet for a new year’s resolution, stay away from this recipe. If on the other hand you want to go the “Eat Pray Love” track and stuff yourself with all delicious carbs until you need new pants, this is a great place to start.
I’ve made these three times now and I definitely prefer applejack to dark rum, golden raisins and I liked them better with the pecans. I also found that I need double the recipe for the glaze to actually get a thick coating like in Dorie’s pictures. This is my third batch and I made more of a caramel for it which I felt was too sweet but everyone else loved it. Also I’d suggest waiting until the bars are completely cool before glazing…otherwise they will just absorb the mixture.
For the Bars
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon applejack, brandy or dark rum (optional)
- 1 baking apple, such as Rome or Cortland, peeled, cored and finely diced or chopped
- 1/2 cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Glaze
- 2-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13 inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour and put the pan on a baking sheet.
THE BARS: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla and applejack, if you’re using it, and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is once again smooth. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear, then mix in the apple, raisins and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and let the cake cool while you make the glaze.
THE GLAZE: In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Turn the bars out onto a rack, remove the paper and invert the bars onto another rack, so they are right side up. Slide the parchment paper under the rack to serve as a drip catcher, grab a long metal icing spatula and pour the hot glaze over the bars, using the spatula to spread it evenly over the cake. Let cool to room temperature before cutting. Cut into 32 rectangles, each about 2-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches.