We live just up the road from an orchard store that is run by the agricultural science program at the local university. Every apple season, my husband and I stop by at least once a week to pick up a quarter peck of whatever apple strikes our fancy that week. It’s a great final stop on our way home from picking up groceries, and I always look forward to sampling the different varieties to pick out what I’d like to snack on most during the week.

When I was growing up, I actually kind of hated apples. We lived close to an orchard and farm produce shop that was run by a family of German Baptists who wanted to share their bounty with the community, and while I loved most of the produce, their apples were primarily red and golden delicious apples. My mother loves a soft, sweet apple, and I just hated them. It was only in college that I discovered Granny Smiths, and I learned that not all apples are the same. The crisp texture alone opened my mind to different apple varieties, and when my husband and I moved here to New York, I fell in love with apples, period. Thankfully, there is no end to the number of crisp apples that I have been able to try, and I’ve come to love the sweeter crisp apples, as well.

Thank goodness not all apples are Red Delicious. 😉

Since we’ve returned to New York after the holiday season, I’ve been edging my way back into cooking almost all of our meals. This past Sunday, I was able to make a batch of lighter Snickers brownies (~100 calories apiece, if you can believe it) that we’ve enjoyed during the week, but we polished them off last night. And we’re dessert people, so we kind of wanted dessert tonight, too.

I’ve been eyeing the quarter peck of Jazz apples that we’ve been eating throughout the week, trying to decide if I wanted to make a dessert out of some of them. One one hand, we’d get a break from the fudgy overload that was those brownies. On the other hand, we’d be apple-less for the rest of the week!

I guess we’re going without apple snacks for the rest of the week. Thank goodness we like the carrots and celery that we still have for snacks in the fridge. 😉

I started my search for apple blondies, and I didn’t find any candidates that I liked. Then I discovered some off-brand cookie butter that we’ve had in the cabinet for a bit, and I went off in search of cookie butter-apple blondies. No candidates. But I did find a recipe for cookie butter blondies.

Why couldn’t I just thinly slice some apples and add it to the blondies? And why couldn’t I up the apple flavor even more (and cut out some fat) by substituting applesauce for the butter in the recipe?

Upside-Down Apple-Cookie Butter Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup erythritol
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter
  • 3 or 4 medium apples, cut into quarters and sliced thin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F, then prepare an 8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, erythritol, and brown sugar. Add the applesauce, vanilla, eggs, and cookie butter, then stir until combined evenly.
  3. Create an even layer of apple slices on the bottom of the baking dish by laying down a row of apple slices, then slightly overlap that row with the next row of apple slices, until the bottom is covered.
  4. Pour the cookie butter batter on top of the sliced apples. Use a spatula to flatten out the batter.
  5. Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let bars cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting the pan onto a plate, cutting, and serving. Best served slightly warm, if possible!
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