Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Friends. It’s DecemberHow did this happen? I swear yesterday it was warm and sunny, and I was looking forward to the coming fall activities with pretty leaves and pumpkin lattes and being able to layer my clothes again. Now I have a forearm strain from spending too many hours cleaning up those “pretty leaves,” and the “layers” have come to be covered by the parka I now wear to work in the morning. Also 2015 is almost over. And I’m going to be one year older very, very soon. Woof. 

Even though I expected the fall to bring a slower schedule, life is proving not to slow down one bit, and on top of that we’re headed into that time of year when life gets even busier! How do parents cope? This is question I often wonder, and still cannot comprehend. I have enough trouble managing to fit everything in my life that I want to, and I only have one person to think about. (Seriously, this question keeps me up at night. How do you crazy people do it? Is it just that you’re actually a little bit insane? Or just better at time management than me? Or you have no hobbies? Or are super-people?!)
Apple Pie Bars - Sweetly Serendipity

Anyway, parenting is neither here nor there when we’ve got as important a topic as (Pumpkin) Caramel Apple Pie Bars to discuss. I love apple pie as much as the next person, but I generally prefer things in bar form – brownies, blondies – you know what I mean. So these apple pie bars were the perfect fall dessert.

Apple Pie Bars - Sweetly Serendipity

I used more apples than the original recipe called for, and was really happy with the result. The apples cook up nicely, but still keep a bit of their texture, which I definitely prefer to squishy, shapeless apples. (I guess probably everyone feels that way, huh? Duh.)

 

 

 

Instead of using a regular caramel sauce, I decided to use pumpkin caramel from Trader Joes. I’d had it sitting in my pantry for far too long, and this seemed like a good way to use it. The pumpkin caramel was loaded with warm fall spices, and it paired beautifully with the apples. I really loved the combination.

Apple Pie Bars - Sweetly Serendipity

I’m starting to get a backlog of blog posts — darn busy schedule! — so I know we’re well past apple season at this point, but these bars are killer. And some of the best baking apples are in the grocery store all year long, so if you find yourself trying to deny winter for just a little bit longer (much like I do on a daily basis), these should do the trick!

Back soon with new recipes, promise! I’ll try not to disappear again, but make no promises. Happy December!

Apple Pie Bars - Sweetly Serendipity

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Ingredients

    Shortbread crust
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Apple filling
  • 3 medium/large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Streusel
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • Your favorite salted caramel sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil), leaving enough overhang on all sides to help lift the bars out when they are done.
  2. Make the crust:
  3. To a medium bowl, add the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix together with hand beaters until combined. Add both flours and mix again until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into your prepared baking pan, and bake for 15 minutes. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling and streusel.
  4. Make the apple filling:
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and gently mix together until all of the apples are evenly coated.
  6. Make the streusel:
  7. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together until combined. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender (or even your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350 degrees F. Layer the apples evenly over the pre-baked crust. There will be a lot of apples, so don't be afraid to press them so everything fits. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the apple layer bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  9. Remove bars from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator and chill until completely cool, at least two hours. When ready to serve, use the parchment paper (or aluminum foil) to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into your desired size pieces (I cut mine into 16 smaller bars), and drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.
http://www.sweetlyserendipity.com/dessert/brownies-and-bars/caramel-apple-pie-bars/

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