Amazing Apple Pie Bars with Streusel and Caramel

Fall means caramel apple cravings.  I discussed this already but it lead me to a favorite recipe for fall for an extended family dinner.  I love this recipe because it can be made ahead a day or two and still be amazing the day you serve it.  This recipe is originally from Sally's Baking Addiction.  The original is good for 2 to 4 people in an 8x8 pan but there won't be any leftovers.  Every time I make these bars I do the following recipe for a bigger crowd or in hopes that I have some left for the next day.  Now this looks complicated.... but see this through and you will be so happy!  It can be broken into 4 easy steps (and you can totally cheat one of the steps.)

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Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I leave this out if my butter has salt in it)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Line your 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil.  (You will be very happy you did this)

Stir the all of the items together.  This will be crumbly -- don't panic.  Throw it in your baking dish and press with your hands to make the crust.  This will come together nicely.

 Bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on your oven.  You are looking for it to be cooked but not browned.

I often cook the crust the day before doing the rest.  It helps me when I am in a time crunch.

Apple Filling

  • 4 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced about 1/4 inch.  I like Granny Smith for their tartness and use Fuji to add some sweetness -- a little depth of flavor by using more than one kind of apple.
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients together and mix to coat apple slices.  Then layer on the shortbread crust.

Streusel

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon -- I am pretty generous here and sometimes do 2 teaspoons -- I really like cinnamon.
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed

Add the ingredients together.  I take my butter while cold and cut with a knife into 3 lengthwise rows and then turn it to cut 8 rows and then turn the cube on it's side and do 3 more rows so that I have nice little cubes.  Combine and don't panic again... it will be crumbly after you stir but get ready with your hands again.  Start smooshing with your hands until you get this crumbly texture. 

Now spread all over the yummy apple filling goodness.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Lift the foil out of the pan and cut into bars.  Last step -- Add Caramel Sauce. All. Over. A scrumptious version of a caramel topping is coming next but this is where you could cheat and use a pre bought caramel topping or go without.

I have also left this dessert in the pan and reheated for 5 minutes at 350 degrees to serve warm at a dinner party.  Warm and topped with ice cream is my favorite -- but a cold bar works for breakfast too.

Salted Caramel recipe coming tomorrow!