Applesauce Spice Bars and Yom Haatzmaut

So I know that this is coming a week late, as Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) was last week Monday night, but it’s been a bit busy around here.  Darling hubby got a man-stomach virus (apparently it’s worse than a regular stomach virus) and has been out of commission since Friday night.  Finally yesterday, his fever went down and he could leave the bathroom.  So I have had to take the baby to day care, pick her up, keep her away from him, and take care of him of course.  But it’s over now and the best news is that he was offered a job for this fall.  He is finishing up his teaching degree and was offered a full-time position teaching high school ESL – Congrats sweetie!

On Monday night we had a barbecue with friends, there was a lot of meat and great times.  We hung out with our gang from our first year in university as well as some new ones.  Most of the older moved away, a couple to Haifa, a couple to Jerusalem, and one to America, though he recently came back.  It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait to see them again.

First Batch of Meat

To prepare for this occasion, I made the chockablock cookies and these applesauce spice bars from Dorie Greenspan’s book.  I have been wanting to make these bars for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity to make them.  They travel well, so we could take them to Jerusalem with no problem and they taste delicious.

That's me - the grill chef

I love barbecuing.  I was trained by the best barbecue chef.  My dad is a traditionalist.  He swears by charcoal briquettes.  He would never use a gas grill or anything other than Kingsford charcoal.  For him, grilling is an event.  It means sitting outside, by the grill, with a cold beer and the game on.  He would soak the coals in lighter fluid for 20 minutes, then light the coals and let them burn until they were all white, only then would he put the meat on.  Because it took so long, we didn’t have many barbecues.  It was only when there was a lot of time, like a Sunday afternoon, or a special occasion.

Wings Marinatin'

My brothers and I learned how to do a BBQ at his side.  In fact, when my parents went to Hawaii when I was in high school, my brother and I made a BBQ for a few friends and only told them about it after.  My dad knew that we were well trained and that we would never burn down the house, my mom was not too sure.

So I did the grilling for Yom Haatzmaut, besides, Rocker Dude needed to plan the playlist for the evening.  That’s his specialty anyway.

Playlist Planning

Back to the bars.  These bars are so easy to make, because you start off heating a few ingredients in a saucepan and then just mix everything else in.  No million dirty bowls lying around, no complicated steps.  Heat, mix, mix some more, pour into a pan and bake.

One stop shop!

Even the glaze afterward was a cinch to make.  This is something I highly recommend for when you want to make something delicious and presentable quickly.

Even got to use my little bottle of rum. Right next to the Jack Daniels (Rocker Dude is a die-hard southerner)

Enjoying the party:

Ilan and Anna - Carnivores both
Welcome back Yitzchak!
Rachel, my old roommate - the runner of marathons and Ariel, tai chi master
Ilan, Rocker Dude's partner in crime
Menucha, Ilan's partner in crime (sorry about the redeye)

Oh yeah, and these:

Applesauce Spice Bars

Recipe:

For the Bars:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp, cinnamon

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. applejack, brandy or dark rum (optional)

1 baking apple, peeled, cored and finely diced or chopped

1/2 cup plump raisins (dark or golden)

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:

2 1/2 tbsp. heavy cream (or soymilk)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from heat.

Whisk the eggs one at a time into the saucepan.  Mix until they are well blended.  Add he applesauce, vanilla, and applejack, and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated.    Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, only until they disappear.  Then mix in the apples, raisins and nuts.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a baking rack and let the cake cool while you make 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 a boil, mixing frequently.  Adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and add the vanilla.  Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.  Let cool to room temperature before you cut the bars.

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