We’ll get to the delicious Apple Pie bars in a second, but first Iceland! It was absolutely incredible. Words cannot describe how beautifully unique it was; we would definitely go again in a heartbeat. We were there for a little over a week, and drove about two-thirds of the ring road, stopping to hike and sight see as we went.
One of the first things we were asked, after the initial question of ” You’re going to Iceland?!?” was, “What are you going to eat? It’s not really a foodie destination?” Though Iceland may not be well known for their cuisine, there’s certainly no shortage of good, high-quality options available. All of the restaurants we went to in Reykjavik were excellent. We had Skyr (a dreamy, fat free, strained yogurt-like Icelandic dairy product) as often as we could, pylsyr (or hot dogs with everything) from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Minke Whale, and lamb. Oh the lamb – it was the most fantastic lamb I’ve ever had. I don’t typically like lamb in the states and I think the Icelandic lamb may have ruined me for all other lamb I will ever eat. It was so mildly flavord and tender – just incredible.
We even had kjötsúpa, a traditional lamb soup, after a long rainy, windy trek to Thrihnukagigur volcano where we were lowered down 400 feet under ground into the dormant magma chamber. After getting soaked to the bone, and feeling like I was nearly going to blow off a mountain cliff (more than once) to see the magnificent chamber below, the lamb soup was a simple, but incredibly satisfying meal away from the wind and rain. The small light in the center of the black oval to the left is the open cable lift returning to the surface, just after dropping us off at the bottom.
Nearly a week later, I still can’t find the words to describe how beautiful and magical Iceland is; I tried to capture the beauty that was around us, but not even the most fantastic photograph can capture the magnificence of the land.
We were getting a little worried, about our trip getting canceled or postponed; about a week before we were going to be flying out news came that Bardarbunga volcano was erupting. Luckily aside from a few road closures, or trip was unaffected. It’s hard to see, but in the picture blow, the smoke rising from in-between the two mountains, is from Bardarbunga.
This was one of my favorite parts of the trip; we decided to walk the hiking trail behind the entrance of Skogafoss. It was a bit of a foggy, drizzly day, but even with the light rain it was the most beautiful hike I’ve been on. One magnificent waterfall after another; miles and miles of vast, untouched lands, scattered with sheep freely grazing and wandering the hillsides. Magical.
We completely enjoyed our trip, and already want to go back. For anyone thinking of going, or going shortly, I can’t recommend this map enough. It has all the points of interest and photographic locations captured perfectly in one durable, and elegant presentation.
And these Apple Pie Bars a pretty killer! Don’t be scared by all the butter; the recipe makes up to 48 bars depending on how you cut them.
Apple Pie BarsAdapted from Food and Wine Makes 40-48 bars I updated the recipe to an 18 x 13″ baking pan, since the 15 x 17″ called for in the recipe is probably less common. I did have a little more topping leftover because of the smaller surface area. Also, if you don’t want to make the full batch of bars, you could cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9 x 13″ pan.
CRUST3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
FILLING6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup water, as necessary
TOPPING3/4 cup walnuts
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375°. Line a standard 18-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the sheet and 1/2 inch up the side. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack.
To make the filling, in 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool while making topping.
To make the topping, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then chop the walnuts to your liking (I like mine on the finer side). In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month. I actually like them refrigerated too, so you could also refrigerate if desired.