Happy (almost!) Halloween, friends!! I know it’s a pandemic, but I hope you’re doing something fun, safe, and socially distanced to bring some joy this weekend. And a great way to bring some joy is to go vote! Go to iwillvote.com to make your voting plan if you haven’t already.
In typical fashion at this point, I have another apple recipe for you! I love apple pie, but it always seems like such a thing to make. Between the dough, the filling, getting it all just right, I just never want to go through all of that. I’m definitely just dramatic, but I feel how I feel! Despite that, sometimes I just want a lil bit of apple pie. The solution? Apple pie bars, with caramel sauce, because caramel makes everything better.
There’s a couple of steps going on here, but it all comes together beautifully and, if you time it right, you’ll be done with the kitchen clean in no time. There are three layers involved here, plus the caramel sauce:
- I started with a yummy, buttery shortbread base, one that isn’t too soft so it holds up to the other toppings, but also doesn’t crumble when you slice your bars. It’s a careful balance!
- Then you’ve got the apple pie filling layer. You can totally use premade, canned apple pie filling, just give it a chop so you’ve got smaller apple pieces. You can totally make your own though, as I’ve got in the recipe. You’ve got so much more control over the flavors and how sweet it is if you make your own, but sometimes that’s just not in the cards, and that’s fine too!
- Finally, the top layer of oat streusel. I love the flavor the oats bring to the party, and the streusel brings it all together, and helps to keep the apples all in place when you slice the bars
- And the bonus caramel sauce! These bars are great on their own, but they’re taken to the next level with a drizzle of caramel. And it’s so easy to make!
The hardest part of making these is letting them cool before cutting into them! I know it’s hard, but the apple filling needs some time to set up so that it doesn’t just squish out everywhere as soon as you cut it. Your patience will be rewarded, I promise! Now go forth and make 🙂
Apple Pie Bars – makes 16
for the shortbread:
- 170g (1.5 sticks) butter
- 90 g sugar
- 225 g flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
for the apple filling:
- 4 apples
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 Tbsp flour
for the streusel topping:
- 1/2 C flour
- 1/4 C oats
- 3 T brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
How to do it
- Make the shortbread: preheat your oven to 325*. Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining with parchment paper, leaving an overhang to pull the bars out of the pan, and lightly grease. Set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla, and flour and mix until just combined. The mixture will be kind of sandy, but if you pinch it together it’ll hold. Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and, using your hands or the bottom of a glass, press the mixture into the pan in an even layer, all the way out to the sides of the pan
- Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown
- Make the apple filling: while the shortbread is baking, peel and cube the apples. I prefer small cubes, but you can do whatever you want! If they’re large, cook for a bit longer on the stove.
- In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Cook for about 8 minutes, then add the flour. Continue to cook, letting it bubble, for 3-4 more minutes, until the sauce that was developing becomes thickened and the apples are soft but not quite fully cooked though. Set aside until assembly
- Make the streusel: before assembling the bars, make the streusel by combining all ingredients and mixing until thoroughly combined.
- Assemble the bars: increase the oven to 350*. Pour the apple filling on top of the baked shortbread base, making sure it’s an even layer all the way to the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the streusel over the apple filling, making sure it covers the entire surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the streusel is starting to get a bit brown.
- Let the bars cool to room temperature, then serve with caramel sauce (recipe below).
- 200 g (1 cup) sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 120 mL (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp salt
How to do it
- Place the sugar in a pot over medium high heat. Mix occasionally at first, then more often as the sugar starts to melt. Continue cooking until it becomes a nice amber color
- Add the butter, in chunks, to the melted sugar. It will bubble, but that’s normal. If the caramel starts to separate, just remove it from the heat and whisk quickly until it comes back together, then continue adding butter
- Drizzle in the heavy cream, again the mixture will bubble, and boil for 1 minute
- Remove from heat and add the sugar. Let cool and enjoy!