Applesauce Spice Bars – sans eggs!

My mom recently asked me to bake up a few treats for a farewell party at church for a dear friend of ours who is moving away. This friend is allergic to eggs, so I needed to either find a yummy vegan recipe, or figure out a good egg substitute.  I started out by asking my brother, who recommended these delicious vegan chocolate cookies. I wasn’t sure if our friend was really super into chocolate-y treats though, so I wanted to make something on the opposite end of the spectrum just in case.

Looking through my billions of bookmarked recipes, I found these Applesauce Spice Bars on one of my all time favorite blogs, Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats (it’s actually the first baking blog I ever read, eventually inspiring me to start my own!) They did include eggs, but I decided to use the flax seed substitute idea from the vegan cookies I made in these bars as well.  I also changed up the add-ins a little bit:  instead of raisins, pecans and diced apples, I used walnuts, apples and cinnamon chips.  I sprinkled raisins on top of the glaze at the end.

They came out delicious!  Even though I knew I needed to save them for the party, a thin row got devoured straight out of the pan by various family members while cooling.  I let them cool overnight before cutting the rest of the way, since they are very moist and the glaze was easier to cut through when cool.  The glaze at first seemed like it was hardening into more of a caramel sauce, and I was worried it would be too sticky and thick, but it actually hardened just right and was sugary and sweet but not too sticky. I got mixed reviews about the raisins on top… some people thought they would be better cooked into the bars, but I thought they had enough going on with the addition of cinnamon chips.

As for the egg substitute, it worked beautifully!  For each egg, I ground 1 tbsp of flax seeds in a blender until they were a fine powder.  Then I added 3 tbsp of milk (you could use soy milk or water if you are trying for something vegan – these bars were not vegan), and blended for 30 more seconds.  The bars were pretty dense, and maybe that was lack of egg, but I thought it worked just fine in this particular recipe!

Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, via Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats

For the Bars:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs (See substitution notes above)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp applejack, brandy, or dark rum (I only had light rum on hand)
1 baking apple, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

For the Glaze:
2-1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp light corn syrup (I used dark)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Raisins to sprinkle on top – I used about 1/3-1/2 cup.

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the inside of the pan with flour. Tap out the excess flour and put the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Bars:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended. Add the applesauce, vanilla and applejack, if you’re using it, and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is once again smooth. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear, then mix in the apple, raisins and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the bars just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and let the cake cool while you make the glaze.

To Make the Glaze:
In a small saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Put the man over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Adjust the heat so that the glaze simmers, and cook, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Spread hot glaze over the bars (I left them in the pan), using the spatula to spread it evenly over the cake. Sprinkle with raisins. Let them cool to room temperature before you cut them. (Or eat them straight from the pan while still hot…)

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