Move Over Paula….

caramelappleshortbreadbars1
When I taught 6th grade I always used to show A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (FYI- Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my fellow Canadians) and we would have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and butter toast. To my surprise the thing that the kids could not stop eating was buttered toast. I was in awe. They kept asking me what do you do to your toast to make it taste this way? Keep in mind this was your $.99 a loaf cheap white bread…slathered in butter. Real butter.

Then I realized that the majority of those kids were raised on margarine. Most of my generation even was as we were told how much better it was for us. Of course now we know it’s the other way around.

Those 6th graders knew best. Butter is the best. It’s what makes your steak taste so awesome when you go out to eat compared to when you cook it at home. Say what? Yes your steakhouse steak is basted in butter kids, and that is what makes it oh so better. Mashed potatoes would be nothing without it. Shortbread and sugar cookies need butter. I need butter.

So when Plugra approached me last year and asked if I wanted some of their butter for holiday baking I was all over that. Six pounds of butter (which sounds like a lot but I blew threw it in 2 weeks :D ). Then this year they asked if I wanted to be part of the Plugra Butter Brigade and I was like umm, yeah, no brainer there.

So this is where if you are a baker you will now hate me. First off, if you aren’t hating on me, then you have never baked with Plugra butter. Now I am compensated for making a recipe and posting about it but really, I’m doing that anyway…I am in it for the butter. The butter I get each month…for a year. :D Yes, that’s right butter for a year. Plugra butter. It’s pretty much perfect for me. I also will be hosting a party using the Plugra Gourmet Club recipes…which if you are into food you might want to check that out and start your own gourmet club. See about it here.

If you live in the USA and want to try it for yourself leave a comment and I will pick a winner (random and picked on 10-17-13 at 5pm pst) to be sent 2 free butter coupons for your choice of either Plugra Unsalted or Salted Butter. Simply just tell me what is your favorite recipe to use butter in?

So onto these bars. All things I love. Shortbread full of butter. Check. Apples. Check. Caramel. Check. These were about as spectacular as they sound. Boring to photograph as brown food never smiles for the camera but the taste is wonderful.

PlugraButter

Caramel Apple Shortbread Bars

Ingredients

  • For the shortbread base:
  • 10 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Plugra)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the Apples:
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • For the Caramel Base:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (I used Plugra)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or light corn syrup)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 TBSP. granulated sugar
  • 4 TBSP. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper with the edges of the parchment hanging over the sides. This will make removing the bars easier.
  2. In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar and salt with a fork. Add the yolk and combine with the fork. Add the flour and using your hands, combine the dough until its flaky. Transfer the dough into the parchment lined pan and press down with your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup. Refrigerate this for 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. While the shortbread is baking, place the apples, butter, and sugar in to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until apples become soft.
  4. Once shortbread is baked, remove and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  5. In a large pot combine the topping butter, brown sugar, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, salt, sugar and cream.
  6. Bring to a boil. Stir for about 5-10 minutes until its thick and bubbly. If you have a candy thermometer - the caramel should be about 248 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla bean paste and fold in the cooked apples.
  7. Pour on top of the shortbread.
  8. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Slice while still cold. Keep in the refrigerator.
  9. Adapted from What's Cooking Gabby.com
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Comments

  1. I love using butter in cakes and coffee cakes to get that rich flavor that it adds.

  2. Lately I’ve been using butter for a browned butter sauce for pumpkin gnocchi

  3. I can only think of maybe 3things I bake that DON’T use butter! The favorite with really good butter would be have to be plain basic shortbread to let the flavor shine through. And yes, I am very jealous of your butter windfall!

  4. I love using butter in and on banana bread. Congrats on getting awesome butter for a year!

  5. Great butter for a year? Yay!! So jealous lol! But butter does make everything better. I can’t list all the things I can make with butter here…you have no room for that. But immediately I will brown some of it and make my favorite chocolate chip caramel cookies.

  6. I can’t wait to make these! Perfect weather for these.

  7. I love to use butter in pretty much everything but if I have to pick a favorite its just slathered on nice fresh homemade bread, and then there is this cook’s illustrated recipe for croissants that specifically calls for European style butter…

  8. I go through a pound of butter a week, easily. I love it in everything, but especially love the magic flavor of buttery brown sugar cookies.

  9. You’re giving away butter and I’m not the least surprised. Not am I surprised that you’re doing this just to get butter for yourself for a year. Again. Still not surprised. =)

  10. Sage brown butter sauce to serve with homemade butternut squash ravioli. Also Paula Deen’s birthday cake cupcakes with her cream cheese icing….both so rich and FULL of sweet butter!

  11. I’ve actually never tried Plugra butter, but I’d really, really like to. I use butter in pretty much everything I bake — though if I had to pick a favorite use for it, I’d pick something like what you said, a place where it shines on its own, perhaps on top of a warm corn muffin. :)

  12. Lately I’ve been making homemade sandwich bread. I’ve discovered the deliciousness of taking a thick slice of it, toating it, then spreading it with butter. Not really a recipe…but it reminds me of the beauty of the humblest ingredients.

  13. My brownies need real butter. I’ve heard of Plugra but never have tried it.

  14. Surely your recipe uses more than one apple right? Looks amazing can’t wait to make it!

  15. Caro Rogers says:

    I use the best butter available for Brittany galettes. This is similar to a rich shortbread. Yum!

  16. My favorite thing to do with butter is to eat as much of it as possible in whatever way, shape or form… But honestly though, I loved scrambled eggs made with butter, Russian-style boiled baby potatoes with butter melted over them sprinkled with dill, and a good ol’ St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake…. Ok, snack time.

  17. Iced lemon shortbread – on my, they are good.

  18. Rolls, or cinnamon rolls. Or anything. I love butter!!!

  19. @angela- that is just one large apple

  20. the kids had it right – butter slathered on toast!! though made with good bread and not the 99 cent loaf w/ perhaps a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top.

  21. Terrific! Those look incredibly luscious.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  22. I’ve never tried Plugra because it’s so expensive, but the way most foodies and bloggers talk about it, it sounds magical! I just made a cinnamon roll coffee cake from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe that had a ridiculous amount of butter in it. Amazing.

  23. I can bake with the best of them (I think), but my favorite application of butter is slathered on a warm slice of freshly baked bread.

  24. Um…so, there are recipes that DON’T call for butter?!? I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite. I’m on a big browned butter kick right now, though. I’m adding it to everything!

  25. I know browned butter is all the rage right now (it seems like the new “salted caramel” ;) ), but it is pretty amazing in blondies and cookies! I also LOVE crumbles/crisps/cobblers, and butter makes the topping so wonderful.

  26. My hubby grew up on just margarine, and had no clue what the difference was. When we first started dating he went to pick up a few things from the store for me and came home with a pound of margarine…yuck! I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I used it anyway, and what I was making did not turn out the way I wanted it to. Let’s just say that if I put butter on the shopping list now, he gets butter. Lesson learned.

    As for my favorite thing to user butter for…um everything. But every week I buy a loaf of sourdough from the farmers market for toast during the week and I slather it with butter. I also love to make caramel corn for holiday gifts.

  27. Anne MacPherson says:

    the one thing I miss about my career as a Flight Attendant is bringing back European Butter! I remember seeing Plugra in Amsterdam. A friend just gave me her recipe bot Boter Koek, and your apple bars look amazing. I live in westport, MA, and would love a couple of butter coupons!
    Some of my best memories are of my Auntie Anna churning butter on my Uncle’s farm in Nova Scotia

  28. I grew up on margarine and only recently switched to butter. Its taken some getting used to…but I’m finding I like it a lot better in just about anything I make. I even like it better than olive oil for sauteing mushrooms and onions. Better flavor.

  29. lyn johnson says:

    I love using butter to make my great grandmothers yeast rolls. Before my dad passed away he told me that my rolls rivaled his granny’s recipe. I will hold on to that complement until the day I die.

  30. The amount of butter I go through in a week is crazy! trying to narrow down my favorite is tough. I think my caramel sticky buns might just be it..for today anyway haha.But I am a popcorn addict and that would be my #1 thing.
    I can’t wait to try this recipe..yummmmmmmm

  31. If i had my druthers, I’d use Plugara on everything….but since I’m not actually a princess, I’ve had my eye on an apple cake that would surely benefit from some extra-special butter :)

  32. Butter is magically delicious in anything, but my favorite thing to use butter in is my chocolate chip toffee cookies. They’re super rich, but go really well with a nice cold glass of milk.

  33. In and on fresh bread. Local Market has KerryGold for $2 per half stick so I don’t get really good fresh butter. Ever. Still, Land o’ Lakes is better than any margarine made so I can live with that.

  34. Butter, for cinnamon rolls of course.

  35. I love making crumble toppings. They always call for a lovely amount of butter and they are always the best part of those desserts! :)

  36. Jennifer N. says:

    Definitely sugar cookies. You can really taste the butter! Yum!

  37. I love to make pumpkin bread.

  38. Angie Bentzel says:

    I use butter in EVERYTHING!! My favorite is a coconut pound cake!!

  39. I always use real butter in all of my baking. I grew up eating beautiful yellow butter just like Plugra. I think I may be a 6th grader since I think there is nothing better than a piece of buttered toast, with a little extra butter slathered on the corners as you eat it. As for baking I would say scones or biscuits.

  40. I would love some butter. How about in my Butter Cookies? Yum!

  41. My mom used margarine in all her recipes, I’ve taken some of her favorite recipes with me to family dinners replacing the margarine with butter. Everyone is amazed that I can make the recipe better than my mom does. Butter makes all the difference. :) My favorite thing to use butter for is either my mom’s pecan tassie recipe, or just on toast with my homemade jam. they just compliment each other and make my taste buds happy. :)

  42. I love using real butter! I mean it is not healthy by any means but when compared the margarine it is soooo much better. If I see a recipe calling for margarine I’m like pft, I’m gonna use butter! :)

    And I love using butter in cookies. For some reason the look of the creamed butter is so beautiful. And when y sister is around I always let her take a little chunk of it before I put the eggs in haha. She enjoys it. But I love using browned butter for browned butter frosting. That has become my new favorite frosting.

  43. Frosting and shortbread are by far my favorite ways to use butter (you know, besides spreading it on really good bread).

  44. I use butter all the time, but lately I’ve been making a lot of things with browned butter – browned butter pasta sauce, browned butter blondies…YUM.

    And yeah. I’m WAY jealous of your free Plugra!

  45. I make overnight waffles with a stick of butter. They are so crispy and yummy!

  46. stephanie says:

    I dare you to try this with butter that good…..I know I would….1 stick butter, melted in fry pan, add 1 cup white sugar cook for 7-12 minutes stirring or wisking almost constantly, it will go through so many changes but then it becomes this carmely toffee and then you add 3 cups of cheerio’s. then stir to coat the cheerios. spread out on a silpat to cool then break into pieces. It is mind numbingly good!

  47. Each course I make used butter, Chipotle butter on sour dough, veggies sautéed in butter, tomato cream pasta, brown-sugar butter pork ribs; that was our dinner last night with friends…oh and lemon bars for desert (shortbread crust). Everything is betta with butta…

  48. Oh, butter…….can’t bake ANYTHING without real butter! Pumpkin bread…banana bread…rolls…streusel toppings… Nothing else will do!

    Oh, Stephanie! I have a similar thing I do but I mix it with Kix cereal! You just can’t stay out of the stuff once you start eating it!!!

  49. I only eat good butter. It is so much better. I don’t understand when people can just buy the store brand. I think this is from my time in France. It doesn’t get better than that. These bars look amazing. Now how can I make them instantly appear in front of me.

  50. Oh my goodness. I am so jealous. I am like you, I don’t even buy margarine, because what is the point? I would rather go without than not eat real butter. Ok so, I would make a never ending list of things with this amazing butter. Perhaps shortbread cookies since the butter would be highlighted. Also, there was a nytimes article about cultured butter this week: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/dining/making-cultured-butter-at-home.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Ok, I am done, sorry to ramble!

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