Apple Pie Bars

We love apple desserts in the fall and are always seeking out variations of the traditional apple pie. Pies are great for holidays and have more of a show stopping presentation, but if we are craving a little weekday treat we don’t need to put in all that time decorating and rolling dough. We found this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and modified a few things to make it our own. These Apple Pie Bars have everything we crave from an apple pie but require just a bit less work. A rich crust? Check. Lots of fresh cinnamon apples? Yep. A crumbly buttery streusel topping? Oh yeah. We go the extra mile by topping them with our Bourbon Salted Caramel for the ultimate fall treat. Our resident taste tester, Myles (15 months old), was screaming for more when he tried them – so we are confident these can please any audience.

Apple Pie Bars
Makes: 16 bars
Prep and Cooking Time: 1 hour Inactive Time: 6 hours to overnight

Ingredients For The Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Ingredients For The Apple Filling:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ingredients For The Streusel Topping:

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • Homemade salted caramel sauce for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 11 Pyrex dish with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Make the crust. Stir the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. The crust batter will seem wet and that’s okay. Press the mixture into the Pyrex using your hands to create an even surface. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  3. Make the apple filling. While the crust is baking, combine the apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Toss gently so that all of the ingredients are coated on the apples. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel topping. Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour together in a medium bowl.  Take the chopped butter and knead it into the mixture with your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should be course and resemble crumbly wet sand.
  5. Assemble the bars. Lay the apples on top of the crust in as even of a layer as you can. Gently press the apples into the crust to help combine the layers. Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of the apples in an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, before lightly covering them with foil and refrigerating them at least 6 hours, up to overnight. Remove the bars from the pan when you are ready to cut by pulling on the excess parchment paper. Cut the apple pie into 2 inch x 2.75 inch bars; there will be 16 bars. Drizzle with some salted caramel and serve warm or room temperature.

Bourbon Salted Caramel

October is the month for spooky, scary festivities and lots of sweet treats! As an alternative to the bags candy you’re bound to have around the house over the next few weeks, we are taking things up a notch with some homemade dessert options. If you are overwhelmed by the thought of making caramel from scratch, don’t be! It is actually quite simple and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. We have gussied this version up with bourbon and sea salt, but you can omit those ingredients if they aren’t for you.

Bourbon Salted Caramel

Makes: about 2 cups of caramel

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 4 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs of your favorite bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water a medium sauce pot. Stir to combine before putting onto the burner.
  2. Turn your burner onto medium-high heat. DO NOT STIR OR TOUCH THE PAN until the sugar has caramelized. This process will be tedious and you need to keep an eye on the sugar. It will go from being clear to champagne colored before turning light brown. Once it gets to light brown, it can go from light brown to burnt very very quickly. Remove the sugar from the heat and burner when the caramel is just lighter than the coppery color of a penny.
  3. Turn the burner on to medium-high heat.  Then — this is very important — do not stir or touch the pan until the sugar has caramelized.  The sugar mixture will go from being completely clear, to a champagne color, to a light golden color, and then to increasingly darker shades of amber.  (Keep a close eye on the sugar, as it darkens quickly once it begins to caramelize.) Once the sugar reaches a deep amber color (about the color of a copper penny), remove the saucepan from the heat and turn the burner off.
  4. Right away after removing the sugar from the heat, add the heavy cream to the sugar in a steady stream, whisking vigorously to incorporate the cream. Don’t be worried when the mixture bubbles like crazy- this is totally normal! When the heavy cream has been added, whisk in the butter until combined. Add in the bourbon, vanilla, and sea salt.
  5. From here, you can serve immediately hot from the stove or you can let the caramel cool and reserve for another time. The caramel will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and will thicken quite a bit as it chills. If you are planning to refrigerate and use later, heat it for just a few seconds in the microwave to loosen so that you can drizzle easily over ice cream, brownies, or any other dessert of choice!