These bars have it all. They are full of sweet and salty caramel, spicy cinnamon, and sweet-tart apples.
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For my birthday this year, I picked up a few new cookbooks. One of them was the Cookies & Cups Cookbook. Though I’ve salivated over many a thing in Shelly’s lovely book, I’ve made Key Lime Pie Cookies and these amazing apple pie bars. Both undisputed winners. I can’t wait to keep cooking and baking my way through this cookbook.
These bars are out of control good. The salted caramel and tart Granny Smith apples are perfect for one another. They’re perfect for enjoying some really classic Fall flavors. And, let’s face it, the near-obscene amount of butter in these bars doesn’t hurt, either.
This recipe is modified slightly from the one found in the Cookies & Cups cookbook.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 14 oz (about 55 pieces) soft caramels (like these ones), unwrapped
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbs flaked sea salt
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced*
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, lightly coat with cooking spray, and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour little by little until the dough just comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Reserve the other half of the dough for later. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the refrigerator.
Bake the base for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and allow it to cool almost completely.**
When the bottom crust is nearly cool, you can start making the caramel sauce. In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the unwrapped caramels and heavy cream. Stir frequently until the caramel is melted and smooth. Pour it over the cooled bottom crust in an even layer.
Sprinkle the sea salt (seriously, I’m having a love affair with Maldon sea salt) over the caramel and layer the apples on top, evenly. Overlap the apples a bit if necessary.
Take the reserved dough out of the fridge. Crumble it onto the apples in an even layer. You probably won’t totally cover the apples, and that’s okay.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the caramel is bubbling.
Allow the pan to cool completely before cutting it into bars.
These bars are pretty amazing no matter how you eat them. But may I recommend reheating a bar and topping it with a little vanilla ice cream?
*I found that using one of these apple corer/slicers made the job go a lot faster. Use one of those bad boys after peeling the apples. Take each segment of apple and cut in half lengthwise. Then cut each of those pieces in half again, lengthwise.
**Make sure that the base is pretty firm, and adequately cooled, before moving on. The first time I made these bars, I was impatient. I didn’t allow the base to cool much at all, and poured the salted caramel on top, thinking that all would be fine. However, because the base never quite baked the whole way through, the bars didn’t retain their shape when cut. It was still delicious, but was a bit of a sloppy mess.