Caramel Apple Pie Bars


photo 1

Last week I had a caramel apple so naturally I thought about making a caramel apple pie. But then, I stumbled upon a recipe for caramel apple pie bars. Game. Over.

photo 3With perfectly sliced apples carefully lined up in the bottom of the pan, these pie bars slice beautifully. They’re made with a shortbread crust, followed by said gorgeous apples, and finally topped with a streusel topping. Oh, and then salted caramel on top. Yes, fall baking is officially here…as if those pumpkin cupcakes didn’t give it away.

photo 2We ate these warm, cold, or cold with ice cream. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Adapted from sallysbakingaddiction

For the shortbread crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 300F. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang so you can easily pull the bars out when they’re done without disrupting them.

In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients except for the flour. Once incorporated, add in your flour slowly until everything is well incorporated. Press your dough into your baking pan, making an even layer and getting it into all of the corners. Bake for 15 minutes. While your crust is baking, you can start working on the filling and streusel!

For the apple filling
2 large apples, peeled and sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Once your crust is done baking, remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 350F. In the meantime, combine all of your apple ingredients together by tossing your apples in everything until well coated.

Layer your apple slices on top of your warm crust. To get a really pretty slice of your bars, place your slices down one by one, allowing your next apple to slightly overlay your last one. You should get about three rows of said overlaying apple slices. I wish I had taken a picture of this part but imagine something like this..

Screen shot 2014-10-19 at 3.59.10 PM

Once all your apples are layered down, it’s time to sprinkle them with cinnamon streusel!

For the cinnamon streusel
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Using a pastry cutter (or forks, but I finally got a pastry cutter!), cut your butter into all of your other ingredients until your mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Simply sprinkle onto your apples until evenly coated and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top layer is perfectly golden brown. If you’d like, you can even try adding in some nuts into the streusel.

Don’t forget the caramel!
Caramel sauce (like for ice cream sundaes)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Once done baking, let cool to room temperature and then at least 2 hours in the fridge. Once chilled through, remove your bars from the pan (aren’t you glad you left an overhang?) and slice to the size you desire using a sharp knife. Because the bars are chilled, your slices should be absolutely perfect without crushing the whole bar. Drizzle on the caramel sauce onto the bars followed by some salt to get a fantastic salted caramel flavor. 

If you desire, you can certainly make your own home made caramel sauce, but I opted to buy some from the store and they were just. as. good.