It's no secret that I love apples. This simple fruit is at the top of my list of favorite fruits, though I don't really discriminate, I love all fruits. :)
This treat is sort of a combination of apple pie and apple crisp. While I'm not a true pie lover, I do love any sort of fruit crisp or crumble. This is like a portable version of apple crisp but I will admit that it's best warmed up and then served with vanilla bean ice cream and leftover caramel sauce (because you will have some leftovers with this recipe).
This is a pretty straightforward recipe and although it has several components, the extra bit of wok is well worthwhile. This caramel sauce is one of the easiest that I've made because everything goes into the pot at the same time. I used my candy thermometer for this and had I not, I probably would have taken the caramel off the stove too soon and it would have had a deep enough flavor. If you have a candy thermometer, I highly suggest using it! I usually send baked goods to work with James but this entire cake pan stayed with us and we ate every last bite. Happy Fall!!
Caramel Apple Bars
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup light corn syrup
4 tbsp. butter
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt (plus more to taste for salted caramel)
For the crust:
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups rolled oats
For the apple filling:
3½ cups apples, peeled and sliced about ½ inch thick (about 3-4 medium apples)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup homemade caramel sauce
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Prepare caramel: Mix caramel ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until it reaches soft-ball stage (230-234°F), about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a electric mixer, combine the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until thoroughly combined. Mix in the flour and oats until crumbly. Scoop out 1 cup for the topping and set aside. Place the remaining crumbs into your prepared pan and press down firmly to coat the bottom.
4. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the salt and cinnamon. Arrange them over the crust. Drizzle 1 cup of warm caramel sauce over the top and the sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of crumb topping.
5. Bake 35- 40 minutes until bubbly and the apples are just tender. Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool and rest until the caramel has set before cutting and serving serving.
Adapted from Recipe Girl, via Culinary in the Country, originally from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion