I’ll say it again: I make good tasting food, not good looking food. I really really tried this time..still didn’t work. I think I’m just so anxious to taste it, I can’t slow down long enough to make it pretty. Anyway, you’ve been warned!
The first day of fall was last week which means pumpkin EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I’m currently burning apple pumpkin candles in my house and classroom. But if you’re like me, all the pumpkin spice can be a little overwhelming. To be completely honest, I tried to drink a pumpkin spice latte one time. Hated it. To be fair, I’m not really a coffee drinker to begin with, but I felt like I was chewing on pumpkin seeds.
Back to the point. If there is a flavor combination I love, it’s caramel apple. If there’s a caramel that I love, it’s salted caramel. So these Salted Caramel Apple Bars are my idea of a legitimately perfect dessert.
The recipe starts with a shortbread crust, which is hard to beat. On top of that goes the layer of apples, and then a layer of streusel. I feel like I’m being dramatic about these bars, but…streusel is my fav.
To assemble and bake the bars takes about an hour. While they’re cooling you can make the salted caramel sauce and attempt to not eat it all with a spoon. Don’t be ashamed if you can’t resist- it happens to the best of us.
This recipe makes an 8×8 but can be easily doubled to make a 9×13.
All purpose flour
Dark brown sugar
Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and set your oven to 300 degrees. Combine ½ cup (1 whole stick) of melted butter with ½ cup of granulated sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Add 1 cup of flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the shortbread into the pan and bake it for about 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, cut two apples into thin slices. I used one honey crisp and one granny smith. You can peel the apples or leave the peel on- totally up to you! Once the apples are sliced, add 2 tablespoons each of flour and sugar. You’ll also add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg and then stir to coat the apples (don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!)
Set the apples to the side and get ready to make some streusel! Around this time, you will also need to take the shortbread out of the oven and up the temperature to 350 degrees. Add ½ cup of oats, ⅓ cup of dark brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, and ¼ cup of flour to a large mixing bowl. Cube a half stick of chilled butter and add it to the oat mixture. Again, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty to combine these ingredients! You want the mixture to have a crumble like consistency. Once that’s done, add the apple layer on top of the short bread and top it with streusel. Pop it back in the oven for 35-40 minutes and eat all the leftover streusel (no streusel left behind.)
Now for the BEST part. Guys, homemade caramel sauce should be in everyone’s kitchen arsenal. It’s so easy and so yummy! In a saucepan, melt ½ stick of butter and add ½ cup of brown sugar. Cook it down until the sugar is totally melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Let it boil for about a minute and slowly add ½ cup of heavy cream. Don’t stop stirring! Lastly, add 1 teaspoon of salt. I also like to add a pinch of coarse sea salt, but that’s just a matter of preference!
Once the bars are cool, cut them into squares and top them with the salted caramel sauce. I promise you won’t be disappointed! There is always time for pumpkin things, but I think it’s time we give caramel apple the love and recognition it deserves. Hope you love them!
Xx- Molly Margaret