salty apple shortbread

My grandfather who used to take me fishing when I was young, always brought the strangest snacks along for our adventure.
And if memory serves me correct, the snack package always included: head cheese (which I always thought was made out of actual human heads, no matter how many times he said it wasn't), a dry salami of some sort (which was quite tasty), bread and butter pickles that my grandmother made (another tasty treat), mayonnaise (which never looked good in the hot sun, but my grandfather had a stomach made of iron), and for dessert it was always a shot (or two) of Black Velvet.
Sometimes my grandfather would be daring and eat a fruit: an apple with salt on top.  
He wasn't much a a fruit and vegetable eater; nor was he a water drinker; always claiming "water will rust your pipes".
Of course not the best example of a healthy eater, but he did love life--god bless him.
When I first saw him eat an apple this way, my brain said "gross", but being the foodie that I am, I was very eager to give it a go.
And you know, it was pretty darn good-- Sweet, tart juicy apple with a pinch of salt--really good.
Hence my creation for a salty shortbread.  I love shortbread and always add extra salt to it if I'm using a good creamy European butter.
Deep down I knew apples and shortbread would be a great combo...and it was.  I mean apples and pie crust are a winner, so why not.  This one is a keeper.  Got it right on the first try too.
If you plan on making this, please read the cook notes.
Also, the winner of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes giveaway goes to: #43 Jillian!  Congrats & please email me.

Fairly easy recipe to do. Only hard part is patting out the dough into the pan.
salty apple shortbread

Cook notes: I wanted flat, thin-like bars to help represent a shortbread-like appearance, so I used a 9x13
baking pan.   If you don’t want thin bars and want thicker then use a smaller pan and make sure to cook them a bit longer.  This is a dry dough, so you might think you will need more liquid, but you don’t.  I highly suggest using parchment paper lined in your baking pan to help lift them out when done baking. I used non stick spray and they were a bit difficult to remove.  Please do not overmix this dough.  Make sure you chop your apples small: ½ to ¼ inch is good.
I sprinkled sea salt on top before baking, this is optional of course, but adds wonderful flavor.

Apple shortbread:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 ¼ cups flour
½ ts baking powder
¼ ts salt
1 ts vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups chopped (small) apples (choose a kind that is sweet, firm tart)
fresh lemon juice for the apples

sea salt for the top

2 TB  half & half (or whole milk)
2 TB butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar (I sift mine to avoid lumps)
1/4 ts cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 F with the rack at the middle level. 
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
Line a 9x13 inch pan with baking parchment and grease lightly. 
Cream the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. 
Blend in the flour mixture, until just combined, no overmixing. Add in the chopped apples and mix again. This mixture is very crumbly.  Dump mixture into pan and use your fingers to press the dough evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the top of the dough.

Bake 6 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake 7-10 minutes more or until the edges are golden brown. 
Let cool completely before applying glaze.  You’ll know when it’s done when the center is almost firm and edges are golden brown.

For the glaze, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan on medium heat. 
Whisk until smooth and barely bubbly.  Drizzle the glaze over the bars. You can drizzle or coat the entire top.
Cool until the pan is just warm to the touch and cut into bars with a sharp knife. 
Makes about 20 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them. 


  1. Mmm, this sounds incredible! I need to make this ASAP!

  2. Love the shortbread bars idea of salty with sweet! And glad you got it right on the first try - love it when that happens.

    BTW, are you using the Artisan Bread in 5 book's recipes? Would love to hear your faves. I just got it and have only made one so far but it turned out *amazing* and I'm sold!

  3. hahaha- I remember eating strange foods when I went fishing with my Dad too. These bars are fall perfection

  4. Looks so delicious. I love shortbread. Apples are a cool idea. Gotta try this one!

  5. Magical! Truly--wonderful job with this one Dawn! And I think I'd have really liked your grandfather. What great memories you have:)

  6. Those look super tasty! Salt very often complements desserts well, in fact it's one of the few times I like salt.

  7. I love extra salt with my sweet also. :) Isn't it funny the things that our grandparents ate and thought? My grandmother was always ready for a "nice piece of cake". And coffee at all hours of the day.

  8. That sounds awesome!!!!

  9. salt is my friend. the glaze is a terrific touch too. :)

  10. You really come up with the most creative recipes out in the blogging world. Your recipes come out as deliciously as you promise in your blog, which can't be done by everyone. I look forward to each new post :)

  11. They look incredible, even if the combination sounded a little odd at first. Although that's usually how amazing things are discovered!

  12. Great memories of your grandpa. My dad used to bring white bread, butter, and white sugar sandwiches when we went fishing. We loved them!

    The salty apple shortbread looks AMAZING!

  13. Aw, Dawn! Love that memory of your grandfather inspired you in this recipe. Love the idea of apples in shortbread.

  14. i think this is spot on, and i will be making them :) what's even better is the memory of your grandfather-- so sweet!

  15. Was your grandfather Polish by chance? He sounds similar to mine, haha. Apples and salt sound super yummy. Watermelon with salt is pretty darn tasty, too :)

  16. I am like Sarah, I have always eaten salt on my apples and on watermelon. I learned it from my grandparents. Funny, now my granddaughter asks for salt with her apples. I guess it is a grandparent thing, ha ha. I can't wait to give this a try, I will print it out now. Unfortunately I am out of apples right now.


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