Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Mmmmm….

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.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Crumb Bars

I really can’t believe I’m saying this, but the weather seems to have finally warmed up a little bit! I am however, ignoring this current New England bit of 50 degree situation today. If I tell myself that it’s a fluke enough times, it will be. Right? Anyway, last week was actually warm which made me feel like it was time for seasonal fruit baking!

Few things say warm weather baking quite like strawberries in my opinion. Plus, they’re just so darn red, fragrant, and pretty! These crumb bars practically screamed spring.

I saw a recipe for blueberry crumb bars from one of my favorite baking blogs but I took the liberty of adjusting the recipe a bit for strawberries. Also, I went big-guns on the strawberry. Also, I ate a few of these with ice cream on top. Worth it!

Pretty little crumb bars, all in their little parchment paper jackets and ready for their 7am photo shoot. Oh, the things I do for lighting…

Strawberry Crumb Bars

Adapted from smittenkitchen
Yield: 24 ish medium sized squares (more for smaller, less for bigger!)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cold, unsalted butter cut into little cubes
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and diced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a 9×13 baking pan.

In one bowl, mix together 1 cup of the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add in your salt and lemon zest. Using a fork, pastry cutter, or food processor cut the butter and egg into the mixture until the dough has lots of pea-sized pieces of butter coated in your flour mixture. Press about half of this dough into the bottom of your prepared pan.

For the strawberries, mix together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Toss your strawberries until coated and sprinkle this on top of your crust.

Take your remaining crumbs and sprinkle over your strawberries until coated. You may have leftover crumbs after your strawberries are covered (depending on how much you used to make the crust). It’s up to you if you want to have extra crumbs on top, or less. Just use or toss!

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the strawberries are bubbling and the crumb topping is slightly brown. If you’re using a glass pan, check to see that the bottom crust is also a golden brown.

Cool completely and cut into squares. Serve with ice cream for optimal results!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Time to bring out the fall candles, buy some pumpkin puree, and make some pumpkin theme things!
What better way to do that than with this amazing fall-in-a-pan dessert? The original recipe was too sweet with not enough cheesecake for me so I cut some sugar out and doubled (bam!) the cheesecake component. Making for some absolutely amazing cheesecake bars.
                  
The star of these bars is the Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce (pictured in background). This stuff is SO good and thick (required for this recipe) with the perfect hint of saltiness.
Bring on the pumpkin themed baked goods! Fall is here!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from: averiecooks

For the crust
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

For the cheesecake
12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 tablespoons flour

For the salted caramel swirl
1/3 cup salted caramel sauce – recommend Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel sauce!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang so that you can pull the bars out later without disturbing their shape. Combine the ingredients for your crust and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Cream together your cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated. Slowly add in your vanilla, pumpkin, and spices. Add in your eggs one at a time. Finally, add in the flour until well incorporated. Pour this fall mixture on top of your crust!

Using your favorite thick caramel sauce, make 4-5 vertical lines of caramel sauce. Then, going 90 degrees to your lines, take a toothpick and gently drag your toothpick through the sauce and pumpkin cream cheese. Like in elementary school making marble paper! Flip your pan another 90 degrees and repeat until desired marbling is achieved.

Now, if you’d like to avoid cracks on the top of your beautiful pattern, boil about 6-7 cups of water in a tea-kettle. Place your pan of cheesecake inside a larger pan. Place this set up in the oven and pour your hot water into the larger pan, creating a water bath. You want the water to come about half way up your cheesecake pan. You can bake it without the water bath, but then cracks will happen. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the middle stops jiggling (very scientific, I know).

Let cool for at least a few hours (overnight is best) before cutting into these and serving. They’re delicious and beautiful!

Enjoy!

 

 

White Chocolate Strawberry Blondies

Summer is here and these blondies smell like a strawberry ice cream. Seriously, I paused for a good 30 seconds just smelling the pan as the strawberries bubbled fresh out of the oven.

White chocolate is incorporated into the batter creating the perfect meld of fruit and chocolate in every bite.  They remind me of cake-batter frozen yogurt swirled with strawberry frozen yogurt…but then chewy, warm baked, beautiful, delicious…

Beautiful berries get folded into the batter and dot the finished product.

Such a delicious recipe!

White Chocolate Strawberry Blondies

Adapted from loveandoliveoil (one of my favorite blogs!)

1/2 cup of white chocolate chips (an overflowing 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cleaned, de-stemmed, and halved (or quartered) strawberries

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

Line a 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Leave some parchment paper hanging over the edges to help you dismount them later. I would highly recommend using parchment paper, these little guys are sticky!

In a double boiler melt white chocolate and butter over medium-high heat. Keep a close eye on this and stir constantly until smooth and well incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in your sugar. Your mixture may look kind of gross and separated but fear not! Just keep mixing (whisk recommended) and it will improve. Also if you have some separated butter, totally okay anyway. Add in your vanilla and then set aside for a few minutes.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Crack open your two eggs into the flour mixture but don’t mix. Slowly add in your still warm chocolate-butter concoction to your flour and egg bowl, mixing in between each add-in. Make sure to add in your warm chocolate-butter mix slowly and in batches so that you don’t scramble your eggs.

Once it is all incorporated, fold in your berries and admire how pretty it is!

Now here’s the tricky part: bake for 30-45 minutes. I say 30-45 because I forgot to time how long it took me but it definitely took longer than the original recipe. When the top springs back at you, the sides are a golden brown, or when a toothpick comes out clean – it’s done!

Let them cool a bit and then enjoy!

 

 

Cherry Pie Bars

These are really good.

Also, they’re pretty easy. I made them as a thank you gift and they were perfect for cutting up and sharing. The crust and topping are very reminiscent of sugar cookie with a kick of almond extract. I think of it as a blend of coffee cake and cookie which is basically saying – tastes like awesome in your mouth.

I made them with cherry pie filling, but I’m sure blueberry, strawberry, any-berry would be just as fantastic.

Also made some in the shape of an actual pie and gave it the old instagram filter. These were served as slices.

Cherry Pie Bars

Adapted from: therecipecritic

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (the perfect flavor!)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 (21 ounce) cans cherry pie filling

For the Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter a 15 inch x 10 inch pan. You can use smaller pans, but keep an eye on the cooking time as it will be longer.

Cream together butter and sugar. Once well incorporated, add in your extracts and egg and enjoy the smell. Stir in your flour and salt until well mixed. See? Easy! Spread about 3 cups of this sugar cookie like mixture into the bottom of your pan – I found that fingers worked best. Then, spread your pie filling over this layer.

Take your remaining dough and break off little chunks all over the top of your pie filling. Again, fingers work best. You don’t need to completely cover the pie filling as some filling showing through makes for a beautiful product.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until your topping is just started to take on a golden brown color. Let cool.

Assemble the glaze by mixing all of the ingredients together. Drizzle onto your bars and you’re done! Time to cut for sharing, eating, and enjoying!