Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are EVERYTHING an Autumn treat should be – tangy/sweet apples and caramel sauce sandwiched between a delectable crust and crispy oat topping. A new Fall favorite!
We have all experienced uncertainty. In my life, I’ve noticed it is the uncertainty of a situation is, for me, what creates the most stress, the most discomfort. In ascending levels of anxiety: Did I pay that bill on time? Did I do well on that entrance exam? Am I going to get that job? Is that lump on my neck the sign of a cold or something more sinister? Once the decision or the diagnosis is made, that great black hole of the unknown is gone. No matter how we feel about the answer, there is only moving forward, albeit sometimes with a new set of choices. I’ve found that once the first piece of information is actually available, there is often knowledge or data or the experience of others at this point to inform the rest of the decisions. These times, for me, have been a reminder (and a valuable lesson) that I don’t necessarily need to have all of the answers, much as I would like to.
Why do these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars make me think of the stress of all my uncertainty? Well, it’s because I’m not sure whether they are a) a pie, b) a crisp, c) a bar cookie, or d) just a caramel apple without the tooth-pulling caramel coating. Naturally this stress is less than the aforementioned uncertainties, which is why I baked them without knowing the answer to this salient question. (Hint: the are e) all of the above) And you should make this recipe, too! I used my favorite apple, the Honeycrisp. But you could use Granny Smiths or Braeburns with similar success. The crust (from 2Pots2Cook) is a tender, shortbread-like base. A layer of Salted Caramel is a dreamy addition to the sweet and tangy apple filling. And the topping (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction) provides a nice layer of sweet crispness to the works!
Speaking of uncertainty, please don’t let the long ingredient list scare you away! I imagine most of us have these items in our kitchen right now, and each layer of this dessert is pretty quick and easy to put together – I promise! This recipe is enough to feed a crowd or several hungry family members for a few days! Like most baked goods, I found keeping it under wraps in the refrigerator only enhanced the flavors on day 2, and beyond.
So, is uncertainty as stressful for you as it is for me? Or are you more “Zen”. If it is, take a deep breath, and let me just reassure you – there will always be uncertainty, but this is certain: these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are fabulous! And you can call them anything you want, because they are EVERYTHING! Enjoy!
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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars
Scrumptious Apple Pie bars! This recipe makes a 9×13 pan, which provides 20-24 bars. It can be halved for an 8×8 pan. My recipe includes a tender crust from 2Pots2Cook, and an apple filling and crispy topping adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I also made Sally’s Salted Caramel, of which you would need about half for this recipe. (You could also purchase a jar of Caramel Sauce or Dulce de Leche, and add 1/2-1 t salt, if you like!
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 60 min
- Total Time: 90 min
- Yield: 20-24 bars
- Category: Pies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
For the Caramel Sauce (you will need around 1/2 of this sauce for the recipe):
- 1 c Granulated Sugar
- 6 T Butter, cut into 6 pieces, room temperature
- 1/2 c Whipping Cream, Half-n-Half, or Heavy Cream, at room temperature
- 1 t Salt
- 1 t Vanilla Extract
For the Crust:
- 2 1/2 c All-Purpose Flour
- 6 T Granulated Sugar
- 8 T Butter, softened
- 2 egg yolks, large
- 1/4 t Salt
- 1/2 t Baking Powder
- 4 T Sour Cream
- 1-2 T Milk, if needed
- 5 Medium Honeycrisp or Large Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, thin (1/4”) sliced
- 4 T AP Flour
- 4 T Granulated Sugar
- 2 t Cinnamon
- 1/2 t Nutmeg
For the Streusel:
- 1 c Old-Fashioned (rolled) Oats
- 2/3 c Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)
- 1/2 t Cinnamon
- 1/2 c AP Flour
- 1/2 c Butter, cold, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 t Salt
Make the Caramel Sauce
- In a small saucepan (1-2qt) over Medium heat, melt the sugar, while stirring. This will take several minutes, over which time the sugar will slowly begin to melt around the edges, then begin to clump, then melt fully into a golden sauce. Stir frequently until sauce if fully melted and a dark amber color, to avoid it burning. Let the sauce continue to melt until it turns a dark amber color. This should take several minutes, but you should watch closely to avoid burning the sugar.
- Once the sauce reaches a dark amber color, immediately add the butter, 1 piece at a time and stir until butter is fully melted and incorporated.
- Slowly add the cream. It will bubble up significantly, and possibly spatter, especially if it is cold. Let boil about 1 minute, and watch so it doesn’t overflow the pan.
- Add the salt and vanilla. Stir. Let cool until you can pour it into a bowl or jar. Set aside. Prepare the crust.
Make the Crust
- Preheat oven to 300F. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, if you desire the ability to lift the entire dessert out of the pan. Place all crust ingredients into a large bowl, or atop a flour-covered work surface. With your hands or a large spoon, mix until a soft dough is formed. If the dough seems too stiff, feel free to add 1-2 T milk until it is pliable.
- Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, pressing into the corners and edges. Bake 10 minutes. Increase oven heat to 350F. Prepare the filling and topping.
Make the Filling
- In a large bowl, place the apple slices.
- Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over apple slices, mix until they are all evenly coated. Place apples over the crust in an even layer.
- Drizzle or pour 1/2-3/4 cup of the prepared salted caramel sauce over the apples. It doesn’t need to completely cover them, just to create a nice layer of caramel for every bite.
Make the Topping
- Mix together all ingredients except butter.
- Using a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is in small (pea-sized) pieces.
- Scatter evenly over the caramel sauce.
- Bake in 350F preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until dark golden brown. Cool at least 1 hour before serving. For best results, place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to slicing.
- Best to refrigerate prior to slicing if you can wait(!)
- Drizzle any extra caramel or add whipped cream if you like, or eat as bars.
- Serving Size: 1/22 recipe
Keywords: Apple Pie Bars