Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bars Are the Dessert We Can't Get Enough of This Fall

Step aside, apple pie.

Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bars
Photo: Darcy Lenz

For as long as I can remember, I have preferred pear pie to apple. It's not that I don't like apple pie (you'd have to be a certain kind of insane not to like apple pie), it's just that I especially enjoy the nuanced, barely floral fruit flavor that pears bring to a gooey pie filling. Not to mention, pear is the first variety of pie I ever learned to make.

My great-grandmother had an Anjou pear tree in her backyard, and when I was growing up, I'd gather brown paper bags upon bags of pears as soon as the fruit hit the ground. It was "my" job starting at a young age, and I took immense pride in it. We would gift some of the bags of fresh fruit to her neighbors, and bake pies for the family with the rest. And that's where my baking journey started — in GG's kitchen, making pear pies.

I think I'd still consider pear pie to be slightly superior to apple even if my sentimental attachment weren't a factor, but who knows? I honestly don't know that pear pie would even be on my radar if it weren't for making them with GG. I mean, it's not like it's a huge stretch to use pear slices instead of apple slices in a dessert, but it seems like a lot of people I know have never been exposed to pear taking the starring role in a warmly spiced autumn/winter pie. If you fall into that category of person, I have to recommend that you give pears a try in a traditional pie format you're in a position to make a pie; you could take your favorite apple pie recipe and swap pears into it, or opt for a simple pear pie recipe like this one.

As much as I do love a classic pear pie, today we're looking at pear pie, in a dessert bar format. Most who know me well know that I am a major pie enthusiast; however, I can acknowledge that pie bars offer certain perks that a standard homemade pie cannot claim. Here are a handful of reasons I happen to love pie bars in general, and why I'm likely to be reaching for these Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bars more frequently than any traditional double-crust pie this holiday season.

Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bar
Darcy Lenz

You Can Forget Finicky Dough

Even for bakers who are perfectly comfortable whipping up a basic pastry dough, you know it still requires a certain finesse to get right. And even if you proceed with utmost care, depending on the temperature in your kitchen, moisture in the air, and if the baking gods are in a good mood that day, you might still find yourself with a wad of dough that's not the smooth, pliable, easy-to-work with material you need it to be.

That's not the case with our pie bars. You'll let your stand mixer (you can also tap your hand mixer for the job) pull the buttery, shortbread dough together and that's pretty much that. You're going to use this same simple dough for both the bottom crust and the streusel topping for the bars. As long as you chill the dough as instructed, it couldn't be easier to maneuver.

You Need Not Worry About Sog

It's a sad reality of fruit pies especially; we all aspire to the idyllic flakey, sturdy pie crust, but sometimes you end up with a bottom crust that just isn't able to stand up to the saturating juices produced by the filling. Sure, you can blind bake the pie shell, and that certainly helps, but it's a step that you may not always be game to accommodate.

With this pie bar dough, you will be baking the thick, cookie crust until golden-brown before adding the pear filling (in order to make sure it cooks through and to prevent sogginess) — however, as we've established, the dough comes together in a snap, and all you have to do is press it into the bottom of the pan with your fingertips. There's no dusting your countertops with flour or rolling pin involved. No pie weights either, my friends.

It's a Clean Slice and Serve Scenario

You may have heard the old baking adage about cutting into a pie: The first slice is always the ugliest. There's no doubt, sometimes slicing and doling out pieces of pie is a downright messy endeavor. Not that something needs to look pristine in order to be delicious, but sometimes (like on special occasions), you really want every serving to look as outstanding as it tastes.

Because the distribution of the fruit filling is spread over a surface and the fact that soggy crust isn't an issue, pie bars are typically always going to be less sloppy. Every slice is a pretty slice. This element also makes them more easily shareable.

Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bars
Darcy Lenz

Get the Recipe: Salted Caramel Pear Pie Bars

The Sheer Decadence

Pie bars are on a different level of sweet indulgence. (These especially so given the salted caramel finish.) This is mostly to do with the fact that you're swapping rolled out pie dough for a tender, buttery shortbread cookie, as I've mentioned a few times now. So when an over-the-top treat is in order, these certainly fit the bill.


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