Apple-Cinnamon Bars


6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
3/4 cup (5 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup (4 5/8 ounces) apple or pumpkin butter*
1 1/4 cups (5 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) cinnamon chips
1/2 cup (2 ounces) toasted chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Cinnamon Glaze (optional):
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter, melted
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon water

*If you don't have apple butter, cook 4 to 5 large apples until soft, run them through a food mill (or press them through a strainer), then cook them over low heat until reduced to a thick, medium-brown paste. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. You may also use prepared applesauce reduced in the same way: begin with 2 cups of applesauce, add the spices, and cook it down until it's thick and dark brown.

*To make pumpkin butter, place one 15-ounce can of pumpkin in a small saucepan or microwave-safe dish. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick and dark brown. Or cook in the microwave on high heat for about 12 minutes -- turn the microwave on in 4-minute increments, stirring after each 4 minutes.


Bars: Beat together the butter and sugar until soft. Add the egg and beat until fluffy. Add the apple or pumpkin butter, beating until blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon chips and nuts. Stir these dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

Grease (or spray with non-stick pan spray) a 9-inch square pan. Spread the batter in the pan. Bake the bars in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: Due in part to varying amounts of liquid and sugar in each type of apple or pumpkin butter we tried, the baking time varied considerably. Also, using a dark-colored pan will decrease the baking time, while a light-colored pan will take longer.

Glaze: Stir together the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon, then add the water. Stir until smooth, adding a bit more water, if needed, to achieve a glaze that's about the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle the glaze over the bars; let them rest for several hours for the glaze to firm up before cutting into squares.

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