Tyler loves apple pie, so it’s a flavor I like to work in as often as possible. So this year with the holidays coming up, I wanted make something around the apple pie concept that would be good for entertaining. The main goal was to keep it gluten free, paleo friendly, and easy to make!
So naturally I turned to bars because they’re so much easier than pie, and don’t even get me started on gluten free pie. If you’re interested in a slightly more traditional pie, I do have an Apple Galette, which is the closest I’ve come to gluten free pie.
However I personally lean towards these bars, but maybe that’s because I’m a huge fan of shortbread crusts! Between these apple pie bars and my pecan pie bars, I think I finally have all our Thanksgiving bases covered. But I do hope you’ll think of these bars outside of the holidays as well because they are so good, even just as a weekend treat with a steaming hot cup of rich black coffee.
I made thees with my Double Coconut Salted Caramel Sauce which is both refined sugar and dairy free. However you can use maple syrup as well if you’re not up for making caramel sauce. The maple syrup will give you more of a traditional apple pie flavor, but we both prefer the hint of caramel with ours.
Plus from a presentation factor, that caramel drizzle looks really delectable!
To keep this extra simple both the crust and streusel topping are mixed together.
Then about 2/3 of the mixture is patted into the baking pan. I like to line my pan with parchment paper so I can pull the bars out later for ease of serving. When you can lift any bar recipe out of the pan, it’s easier to slice and serve without breaking a few.
Next up the apples are mixed together with a touch of cinnamon, caramel sauce, and a secret ingredient I learned from Tyler’s mom – orange juice. And seriously, that bit of added orange juice is a game changer with apple desserts.
Then the apples are layered over the top of the crust…
… and topped with the remaining 1/3 of the dough mixture, crumbled up as a streusel.
After they’ve cooled for a bit, you can lift them out of the pan to slice them up…
… and drizzle with caramel – just be prepared for them not to last very long. They basically vanished in our house, (we had company when I first tested these) and everyone was asking if there was anymore!Print
A decadent fall dessert perfect for the holidays!
Shortbread and Streusel:
2 1/2 cup fine almond flour
3 Tablespoons tapioca starch, see notes
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds, not toasted
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon orange zest, see notes
6 Tablespoons ghee, butter, or coconut oil for Vegan, melted
6 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon tapioca starch
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
pinch of sea salt
3 medium sized baking apples, Granny Smith or McIntosh are my favorites, 1lb 4 oz
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut 2 strips of parchment paper for an 11″x7″ baking dish, one for the width, and one for the length. Then line the pan pressing the paper down into the corners.
For the shortbread and streusel, mix together the almond flour, tapioca starch, sea salt, sliced almonds, cinnamon, and orange zest until combined. Add the melted ghee/butter/coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, mixing until completely combined.
Pat 2/3 of the shortbread and streusel mixture into the lined baking dish, reserving the remaining 1/3 for the topping.
Set the crust aside while you make the apple filling. In a large bowl, mix together the cinnamon, tapioca, caramel sauce, orange juice, and sea salt until combined.
Either by hand or using an apple/peeler/corer/slicer, peel and cut the apples into 1/4″ slices. Add the slices to the bowl with the orange juice mixture, and toss to combine.
Evenly layer the apples over the top of the crust, and crumble the remaining 1/3 of the shortbread and streusel mixture over the top of the apples.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, placing a foil tent over the top of the bars after 20 minutes. When the bars are bubbling and the apple slices are tender, remove them from the oven to a cooling rack for at least 45 minutes.
When the bars are cool enough to lift out, using both sides of the parchment paper, carefully lift them out and drizzle with caramel sauce.
Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. If you have any leftovers, these keep well for up to 2 days on the counter, or refrigerated.
The shortbread and streusel will soften by the second day, but you can always crisp them up in the oven at 200ºF for a few minutes.
I’ve had many readers write in to say they’ve successfully subbed in either cornstarch or arrowroot for tapioca in my recipes. I personally like to work with tapioca, but hopefully this will help if you can’t have it.
I like to grate citrus zest for all my recipes with a microplane grate so there’s no large chewy bits of rind.