So today of all days (Sept 11th) I debated on whether or not I should publish a post, thinking that it would be a frivolous idea to throw out a recipe and continue to chat as if today doesn’t really mean anything. I know that if you are not an American or you were not alive 17 years ago — you may not think that there is anything special about today or that Sept 11th isn’t really a “big deal” but as someone who watched those planes fly into the twin towers and who now serves as a member of the US armed forces — today is a day of remembrance for me. So as I sit here and think about this great recipe that I have to share and whether or not I should, I have to think that life does move on and the events of 17 years ago should not stop me from continuing to spread the love and joy I feel through food — if anything it enhances that need. So! May we remember those who lost their lives today 17 years ago and may we continue to live, love and eat in honor of their memories.
Ahem *gets off soapbox* now back to our regularly scheduled baking — Caramel Date & Pear Pie Bars! Yum! Perfect for fall and super easy to make! Love that.
Now, this recipe probably sounds a little strange and dare I say, different, but stay with me. When you think about it, Dates and Caramel have similar consistencies. I mean, they are both sweet, sticky, and rich brown in color. Which in my opinion, makes them the perfect match. Also, heating them together with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg – ugh. Your whole house will smell like fall!
Now on to the pears. I used canned pears. Yes. Canned Pears. So versatile and easy to use! Plus, they are already pre-seasoned and ready to go, all you have to do is cut them up and voila! Ready to go. I also added in an apple for consistency and texture in the overall pie. And you can use any apple, I just happened to have a Gala apple laying around.
So enough about what’s on the inside, lets chat about what’s holding this sucker all together — the crust! This crust isn’t what I would call a typical pie crust. In fact, it’s more of an ultra thin cookie when you get down to it. It also makes a pretty large quantity of dough, so you can make more than just these bars with it. The important thing to remember is to pre-bake your crust so that the caramel-date mixture doesn’t make it soggy. No one likes a soggy crust. #truth
So that’s about it! You can certainly dress yours up with more lattice work if you’d like, it’s completely up to you how fancy you want to get. Well I hope this recipe helps brighten your day on an otherwise somber one and I hope to see you back soon.
Sheet Pan Pie Bars -- Caramel Date & Pear
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 20 Tbsp. 3 Sticks + 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup ice water; more as needed
- 10 medjool dates chopped & pitted
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 Cup syrup from canned pears
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 Cup caramels I used Kraft Caramel Bits
- 2 Cans Pears in light syrup drained with liquid reserved
- 1 medium Apple
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
For the crust:
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to combine, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until it is about the size of walnut halves, 30 to 60 seconds.
- Slowly add the cold water, and pulse to combine. Once the dough forms, turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough a few times, until it comes together.
- Divide the dough in half and form the dough into a 2 rectangles about 1 inch thick, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; keep wrapped until ready to use.
- For a parbaked crust, position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- On a lightly floured surface (or on parchment), roll out the dough slightly larger than the size of the baking sheet, about 15×20 inches. Roll the dough onto a rolling pin, and gently unfurl it onto the prepared baking sheet. Gently press the dough into the bottom and corners of the pan; it should come up the sides and just over the edge of the pan.
- Use a knife or scissors to trim away any excess dough. Prick the base of the dough all over with a fork (a process called docking), and then chill the pan for about 30 minutes.
- Place a piece of foil over the dough, and lay another large rimmed baking sheet on top. Bake the crust until the edges appear firm and set, and the dough becomes light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the top pan and the foil, and return the pan to the oven until the dough appears dry, 2 to 3 minutes more. Cool completely before using.
For the filling:
- Meanwhile, finely chop the dates, removing any pits, then stir in with the sugar, liquid, and spices. Gently simmer over a medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dates are almost tender. Stir in the caramel bits and continue to cook until the caramel is melted. Set aside to cool.
- Chop the pears and apple into bite size pieces, and place in a bowl a toss with a pinch of cinnamon and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
- Spread caramel date mixture evenly over the bottom of your par-baked and cooled crust and top with apples and pear mixture.
- Use remaining dough to make lattice designs on top, securing to the par baked crust.
- Brush with egg wash (1 egg & 1 tbsp water beaten) and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and firm and filling is bubbling slightly. Cut into squares. Delicious served warm or at room temperature.