Most people associate the movie When Harry Met Sally with that scene.
You know the one. I don’t even have to go any further for you to recall it. Because it’s already there — etched into your brain with the memorable ending line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
When I think of the romantic comedy, however, I think of a different scene entirely.
It’s the first diner scene that takes place during Harry and Sally’s road trip from Chicago to New York.
It’s Sally’s turn to order, and as is par for the course with her character, she is unknowingly making a spectacle of herself in the process. She says with nary a hint of self-consciousness, “I’d like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode….But I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.”
I love this scene. Love this line, and love that Sally is so sure of what she wants.
Because I, like Sally, am a particular eater and particular pie-eater – especially when it comes to fruit pie.
In my mind, any fruit-filled pie must be heated prior to serving and must be served with a scoop of full-fat vanilla ice cream on the side (not the top, like Sally also makes note of in the quote above). The ice cream itself needs to be at the stage where it’s just starting to melt, but not so much so that it oversaturates the poor piece of pastry next to it. Oh no, it must be at that perfect midway point between soup and the slightly icy texture of a fresh scoop so that the cream streams into the crevices of the crust at a slow trickle.
It shouldn’t come as any shock that I am also particular about how I like to eat these wonderful, amazing, so-good-it-hurts-me-to-talk-about-them-without-one-in-my-mouth cranberry-apple pie bars.
They are my kryptonite – sweet and tart, full of aromatic fall flavors, homey and comforting… essentially everything I love about pie, but in a much more convenient form. While it does take some patience to make the cranberry sauce, and slice and peel all the apples for the filling, the shortbread crust couldn’t be easier to make. It’s far less frustrating and labor-intensive than rolling out an actual pie crust that can so easily become tough and overworked. The butter-rich batter is more forgiving, and in my mind, results in a tastier, more texturally-pleasing pastry.
Because the shortbread crust is so flaky and tender and sweet and delicious on its own accord, I don’t want vanilla ice cream to come anywhere near it. Not even in a bowl on the far side of the table, thank you very much.
I do, however, want – nay need – to have the bar heated for approximately 30 seconds in the microwave to reach that optimal temperature that resides between lukewarm and scalding.
I also need to eat it with a frothy Nescafé Vanilla Latte Macchiato made with my Dolce Gusto Circolo Machine – the perfect companion for the seasonally apropos bar – especially since it can be made during the 30 seconds that it takes for me to heat the pastry. I simply pop the convenient pods into the gourmet coffee machine one-by-one, turn the lever to hot water and within a minute, I’m ready to get down to my obsessive-compulsive pie bar-eating business.
The creamy, subtly sweet latte leaves a perfume of vanilla on the palate that compliments rather than interferes with the tart and sweet flavors of the cinnamon-kissed cranberries and apples. It’s everything that Sally didn’t even know she wanted when she was ordering in the diner that day. I like to imagine she might react to the combination in the same manner she did in that other diner scene.
You know the one.
And trust me, if she’s eating a cranberry-apple pie bar with a Nescafé Dolce Gusto Vanilla Latte Macchiato, you really do want what’s she having.
Cranberry-Apple Pie Bars
Inspired by Our Best Bites
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup real butter, softened (no substitutions!)
1 egg, beaten
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 cups (about 4 medium) sliced, peeled Gala apples
1½ cups cranberries
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup water
¼ cup apple cider
3 tablespoons sugar
To prepare cranberry sauce, dissolve sugar in water and apple cider in a small saucepan. Add fresh cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer together until sauce starts to thicken. Add dried cranberries and continue cooking until jam-like in consistency. Set aside.
To prepare apple-cranberry filling, peel apples and slice into thin pieces. Combine with the flour, sugar, cinnamon. Stir until well-coated and then add the cooled cranberry sauce. Set aside while preparing crust.
To prepare crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles. Gently mix in beaten egg.
Butter a 11×7 baking dish and gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish. Spread cranberry-apple mixture out on prepared crust. Pat patchwork pieces of reserved crust mixture over the top and bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees or until crust is slightly golden on top.
Serve warm with a vanilla latte macchiato.