My husband isn’t partial to summer fruit- with the exception of freshly picked strawberries. He loves bananas, Bartlett pears, and cantaloupe. 🙂 Before the summer berry and peach baking season, I made these pie bars to embrace sweet and juicy Bartlett pears.
The bars have a Danish-style pie crust which very tender because it incorporates milk and egg yolks instead of ice water. It was really delicious. I also loved the cream cheese glaze spread over the top.
This recipe was adapted from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer. I weighed most of the dry ingredients as well as the peeled and cored fruit. I also used fine sea salt and omitted the brandy.
It was a wonderful springtime dessert but it would also be fabulous for Thanksgiving.
For the Crust:
1/2 cup (120 g) whole milk, plus 1 or 2 T if needed
2 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups (355 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 T granulated sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 cup (2 sticks or 227 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 20 pieces
For the Apple-Pear Filling:
8 cups (1100 g) Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced 4mm thick (I used 6 organic pears)
1 cup (150 g) peeled and grated Gala apples (I used one large Gala apple)
1/3 cup (65 g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, plus 2 T for sprinkling
3 T cornstarch
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 T brandy (I omitted it)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Egg Wash:
1 large egg
pinch of fine sea salt
1 T (15 g) water
For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
2 oz (57 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 T whole milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
1 to 1 1/4 cups (120 to 145 g) confectioners’ sugar
To Make the Crust:
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and egg yolks. Place in the refrigerator.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, granulated sugar, and salt on low speed until combined.
Add half of the chilled butter and mix on low speed until the butter is just starting to break down, about 1 minute.
Add the rest of the butter and continue mixing until the butter is broken down in various sizes. (most should be the size of small peas but some pieces may be larger) Make sure that all of the flour is moistened.
With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the milk-egg mixture, and mix until the dough starts to come together. If the dough is having trouble coming together, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of milk.
Divide the dough in half, place each piece on a separate piece of plastic wrap and flatten each slightly into a square.
Cover and refrigerate until cool but still soft, about 45 minutes.
On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll one square of the dough into a 9×13-inch rectangle (22×33 cm). (I covered the top with plastic wrap and rolled the dough 1/8-inch thick, using a bench scraper to cut pieces and patch to form the proper shape.)
Transfer the dough to a 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Gently pat the dough into the bottom. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Roll out the second square of dough into a 9×13-inch (22 by 33 cm) rectangle using the same method. Place on an inverted sheet pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
To Make the Filling:
Use a food processor to slice the pears 4mm thick and coarsely grate the apple(s).
Combine the sliced pears, grated apple, brown sugar, 1/4 cup (4 T or 50g) granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
In a small liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine the melted butter, brandy (if using), and vanilla. Pour over the pear-apple mixture and toss to combine.
To Make the Egg Wash:
Whisk the egg, salt, and water together in a small bowl; set aside.
Fill the prepared pie shell with the pear-apple mixture and smooth the top.
Remove the top crust chilling on the inverted sheet pan from the refrigerator. Place the dough over the top of the filling. (It does not need to be sealed to the bottom layer.) Trim any excess with kitchen shears or a sharp knife.
Gently cut a few steam vents into the top layer of dough. (I cut 11 vents.)
Chill the pie in the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place a sheet pan on the oven rack while the oven is preheating. (The preheated sheet pan helps crisp the bottom of the pie crust.)
When the pie is ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top with the 2 T reserved granulated sugar.
Transfer the pie to the preheated sheet pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. (I baked mine for 50 minutes.)
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool while you make the icing.
To Make the Cream Cheese Glaze:
In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to mix the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
Add 1 cup (120 g) of the confectioners’ sugar and mix again until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
Once the bars are cool, top them with the glaze; spread to the edges.
Note: The pie bars are best eaten the same day they are made but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
I have my own Meyer lemon tree but I did have to purchase the lemons for this special treat- this year anyway. My tree is very sparse at the moment- and not that happy. 😦 Hopefully it will have many lemons sometime in the future! Anyway, I love individual desserts. These were silky, creamy and delicious.
This recipe was adapted from The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Such a beautiful and informational book. The lemon zest and juice can be replaced with Key lime zest and juice for a lime version. Alternate press-in cookie crust variations are included below as well. Very nice.
Yield: 12 mini pies
For the Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust:
113g / 4 oz / 8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 g / 1/4 cup / 4 T granulated sugar
21 g / 1 large egg yolk
5 g / 1 tsp vanilla extract
210 g / 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 g / 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
15 g / 1 T water
For the Pielets:
1 recipe Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust (ingredients above)
99g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
288g / 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
60g / 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2g / 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1g / 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional
Meyer lemon zest, for garnish, optional
To Make the Crusts:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter begins to simmer and foam, the milk solids turn brown, and the butter smells toasty, about 10 minutes.
Cool the butter to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cooled brown butter and sugar on medium-low speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix on medium speed to combine. Scrape the bowl well.
Add the flour and salt and mix on low-speed until fully incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the water and mix just until the dough is smooth, about 1 minute more.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C with a rack in the center.
Grease the cavities of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
Divide the dough into 12 even rations in each cavity. (I used cookie scoops of various sizes.)
Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of each cavity.
Use a small fork or tip of a paring knife to dock the dough all over.
Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
Bake the crusts until they are lightly golden at the edges and appear set all over, 14 to 18 minutes. If the dough puffs up during baking, prick it with a fork when you remove the crusts from the oven so it lies flat again.
Cool crusts completely. Then, use an offset spatula to gently unfold the cooled crusts onto a baking sheet. They should release easily. (I found that rotating them helped release them from the pan- the top edges of my crusts did crumble a bit though- still delicious.)
To Make the Filling and Serve:
In a small pot, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together to combine.
Add the cream and heat over medium-low heat, whisking, to dissolve the sugar. Do NOT let the cream come to a boil.
Transfer the mixture to a large container with a pour spout and whisk in the lime juice, vanilla, and salt.
Carefully pour the custard into the cooled crusts, filling each one just over 3/4 full.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and garnish with additional zest, if desired, and serve.
The pielets can be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
Any leftover filling can be chilled in a ramekin for a baker’s treat. 🙂
Alternate Press-In Crusts:
To Make an Oatmeal Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Replace 30 g / 1/4 cup of the flour with 74 g / 3/4 cup rolled oats.
To Make a Coconut Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Add 50 g / 2/3 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut with the flour.
My Mother-in-Law makes this delicious strudel every Christmas Eve as part of the traditional Ukrainian 12-course feast. It is always a highlight of the meal for me. 🙂
I used tart apples (Granny Smith) but may use a combination of tart and other firm sweet-tart apples next time. I also used a mandoline to slice the apples. My Mother-in-Law has the magic touch… hers tastes better than mine, of course, but I did use her recipe! Yum.
Yield: One Strudel, about 8 servings
2 1/2 to 3 tart and firm apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup raisins
lemon zest from 1/2 large lemon
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
ground cinnamon, to taste
2-3 T fine bread crumbs, plus more for sprinkling
8 sheets of thawed phyllo dough
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
To Make the Filling:
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. (I used a mandoline to slice the apples 1/8-inch thick.)
Mix the sliced apples with the sugar, raisins, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, and 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
To Make the Strudel:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap.
Remove on sheet of phyllo dough and place on a piece of parchment paper.
Brush the entire surface with melted butter, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, sprinkle with brown sugar, and dot with strawberry preserves (use very little preserves).
Repeat this process for the next 7 layers of phyllo dough.
After the dough is prepared, place the filling evenly on top of the dough, starting at the shorter end and leaving 1-2 inches uncovered at the opposite end.
Lift the edge of the parchment paper closest to the filling to help roll the dough and form the strudel.
Place the roll, seam side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining melted butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
This recipe was adapted from a “staff favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Sarah Jordan. I appreciated the press-in crust and we all absolutely loved the consistency of the bars. Pie bars have the bonus of easier portion control too- which is crucial on Thanksgiving. 😉 Great.
Yield: Makes on 9×13-inch pie
For the Press-In-Crust:
2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes.
With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour-and-salt mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. (I used a pyrex pan.)
Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick.
Refrigerate until firm.
Bake the crust for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.
For the Filling:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, optional (I omitted it)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
Baked Press-In Crust (above)
crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
In a small bowl, whisk the sugars with the spices and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.
Whisk in the sugar mixture, then whisk in the pumpkin puree and the evaporated milk until smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the filling is fully set.
Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
Cut into bars and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche, as desired.
Note: Bars should be stored in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (I prepared them a day prior to serving.)
I already have a couple easy fall apple desserts that I make every year- French apple cake and apple pie bars. I had to add this one onto the list this year. I love fruit desserts! 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten, via epicurious.com. I used the puff pastry shortcut, reduced the amount of jam in the glaze, and modified the baking method.
The apple juices, sugar, and butter collect on the edges of the tart (and become quite dark!) but can be trimmed prior to serving. We ate it with vanilla ice cream which was completely unnecessary but delicious.
For the Pastry:
(Alternatively, use one sheet of store-bought puff pastry- I used Trader Joe’s)
1/4 to 1/3 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
For the Puff Pastry Crust:
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 2 hours at room temperature.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; remove from the pan.
On the parchment, roll the thawed crust into a 10×14-inch rectangle. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges.
Place dough (on parchment) on the rimmed baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator to chill while the apples are prepared.
To Make the Pastry Crust:
Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas.
With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger than 10×14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. (I would roll it out on the parchment paper.)
Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while the apples are prepared.
To Prepare the Apples and Finish the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.
Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. (I used a mandoline.)
Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and continue to bake 15 to 30 minutes more, until the pastry is browned, the edges of the apples start to brown, and the apples are tender. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. *Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water or Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. (I used apricot jam and used a whisk to break up large chunks. It could also be strained.)
Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
This is another “healthyish” cast iron skillet recipe from Bon Appétit. It was almost my entire CSA box in a pie. 🙂 I incorporated CSA leeks, butternut squash, and Toscano kale. Very seasonal- perfect.
I had an abundance of kale, so I made the pie in a large (12-inch) skillet. I also incorporated kohlrabi greens. Because this recipe is very adaptable, the finished pie size can be modified depending upon the volume of filling. Any other greens would work too.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Anna Jones. The lemon zest was essential. We had a green salad made with my CSA romaine lettuce on the side. 🙂
Yield: 6 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 large leeks, white and light green portions, cut into 1/4-inch half-moons and soaked OR 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch crosswise ribbons (I used about 8 cups)
2 to 3 large eggs, beaten to blend (I used 3 eggs for a 12-inch pie)
3 ounces Parmesan, grated (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of one lemon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces frozen phyllo pastry, thawed (half a 1-pound package)
4 to 6 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled, divided
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add leeks or onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6–8 minutes.
Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8–10 minutes.
Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes and transfer to a large bowl; let cool.
Wipe out and reserve skillet.
Add kale, eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest to squash mixture and gently mix to combine; season with salt and pepper.
If using 6 ounces of cheese, incorporate 2 ounces into the kale-squash mixture.
Working quickly so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, layer phyllo sheets inside reserved skillet, letting 2-3 inches hang over the edge. (I placed them in a circular fashion. I also brushed some oil between every few layers.)
Spoon kale-and-squash mixture into phyllo and dot top with cheese.
Brush edges of phyllo lightly with oil and fold over filling, overlapping slightly, leaving center exposed.
Cook pie over low to medium-low heat until bottom of pastry is just golden (carefully lift up on one side with a heatproof rubber spatula so that you can take a peek), about 3 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake pie until kale is wilted and tender and phyllo is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes.
Let pie cool in skillet at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.
Do Ahead: Pie can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let cool; store uncovered at room temperature.
This phyllo-crusted savory pie is packed with caramelized summer zucchini. It is a wonderful way to gobble up an abundance of fresh squash from the garden or your CSA share. 🙂 I loved that it was baked in a cast iron skillet too.
The recipe was adapted from thekitchn.com, contributed by Grace Elkus. We ate it for dinner with a green salad but it could also be served for a special brunch or lunch- an amazing summer meal.