Salted Caramel Apple Bars

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These are absolutely amazing. Homemade salted caramel, layered on top of an oat crust, a thick layer of fresh apples, and a crumbly shortbread crust. I really don’t have to do much to sell these, because they really sell themselves.
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These were the other snack I made a few weeks ago when I had a couple friends over to craft. They disappeared extremely fast. The plus side: the salted caramel made so much, I had enough to drizzle generously over all the bars, and I also had extra! I’m planning on making brownies (the triple chocolate brownies I featured on the blog) and drizzling the rest of the caramel over the top before I bake them, because why not? Salted Caramel brownies sound amazing to me.

As a note, (and this should be a given considering the delicate art that is baking), please make sure you have read through the directions, especially for the caramel. Caramel is such a finicky thing to make, you really need to keep your eye on it. It can overcook and burn in an instant. If you have the directions right with you and you know them well, you will be fine!

On to the treats!
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 8 x 8 pan

For the salted caramel:

1 c. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pieces
½ c. heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt

For the crust:

½ c. melted butter
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 c. flour

For the filling:

2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

For the streusel:

½ c. old-fashioned oats
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. flour
¼ c. butter

To make the caramel, heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. Stir constantly while adding the butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.

Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool down before using. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using. While the caramel is cooling, prepare the bars.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a medium bowl, combined all crust ingredients and stir until well combined. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.

To make the filling, combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss until all apples are evenly coated.

For the streusel, whisk together the oats, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

To assemble, remove the cooked crust from the oven, and evenly layer the apple slices on top. Sprinkle the streusel over top of the apples, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until streusel is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes, or to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Once chilled, cut, drizzle caramel over bars, warm, and serve.

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Rhubarb Bars

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So, I had a couple of friends over the other day, and we spent the day just hanging out, relaxing, watching movies, drinking tea, eating some baked goodies, and crafting. It was great. This was one of the things that I made. I was quite nervous that these bars wouldn’t turn out, because I had to bake them almost double the recommended time. Saying that, though, my oven runs cool, and new recipes are always needing little tweaks here and there.

I bought a bunch of rhubarb from a local farmer’s market a few weeks ago, then brought it home and froze it. It’s been burning in the back of my mind since I got it because I wanted to make another rhubarb recipe, but I had no strawberries left for pie. This was the perfect choice.
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It has a light, shortbread-like crust, topped with a custard flecked with tons of rhubarb. I was also afraid that the tartness of the rhubarb would be completely overpowering, but this wasn’t the case at all, and I was so happy. The rhubarb still had it’s signature tart bite, but it was totally calmed down by the custard and the shortbread all baking together. These bars, while not the most pretty, and definitely not the cleanest slice, are definitely a winner.
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 x 13 pan, about 16-24 bars, depending on size

For the crust:

1½ c. flour
¾ c. butter, cold and cubed
¼ c. icing sugar

For the custard filling:

3 eggs, beaten
2 c. sugar
½ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
4 c. rhubarb, cleaned and diced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and sugar. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pat into the pan, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until light golden brown.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt. Gently fold in the rhubarb. Pour in the rhubarb mixture over the hot crust, and spread evenly around pan.

Reduce heat to 325°F, and bake for 30-35 minutes until set. Bake longer if needed. Centre of bars should be just set, no longer jiggly.

Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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I love a good strawberry rhubarb pie. The bright colours, the crisp crust, the tender fruit. It really is a fantastic choice for summer. Last week, I visited my parents, and they gave me a tour of their budding garden… with about 15 different plants, veggies, and fruits! They had an abundance of many of their plants, but the rhubarb was growing especially wild! My mom ended up giving me a huge stack of fresh rhubarb, and when I got it home and chopped it up, I had enough for two pies!

A friend and co-worker who is also a huge fan of strawberry rhubarb pie asked me to make one, and why make one pie, when I could make two! I unfortunately heated up the house… (we don’t have air conditioning!) but I think it was worth it. Homemade pie? Strawberries? Rhubarb? Totally worth it…. even if our fans are working overtime as I type this.
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Any berry pies are really quite simple. Add berries, some flour or cornstarch as a thickener, some sugar, and a few spices, and boom! Pie! The best part about berry pies is that you can use fresh or frozen berries. Obviously fresh is the best choice if you can get them, but getting frozen fruit enables you to make this pie at any time of the year!

I froze the fresh rhubarb my mom gave me as soon as I brought it home instead of refrigerating it. I brought it home, washed it, chopped it up, and froze it. Then, when I went to make pies today, I just took the rhubarb and strawberries out of the freezer at the same time, let them thaw for a few hours, and went to it!

I guess this recipe was originally from a magazine, and Cindy Crawford claimed it as her own. Either way, this recipe was the one that I chose, and it came out absolutely delicious!
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You can also always adjust the amount of fruit in this pie if you like one flavour more than the other. If you like it a little sweeter, put more strawberries. If you like your pies with a slightly tart bite, more rhubarb is the key. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this pie combination. It’s a summer staple, and there is no doubt why!
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch pie

1 recipe for a double crust pie
1¼ c. plus 2 tsp. sugar
1/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 c. sliced strawberries
2-3 c. sliced rhubarb
2 tbsp. butter, cubed
2 tsp. milk (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out pie crust to fit a 9 inch pie plate.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg until evenly combined. Place the strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl, and add the dry mixture. Stir to coat fruit evenly.

Fill crust with pie filling, top with butter scattered over the filling, and trim crust. Roll out remaining pie crust into a top crust for the pie, and crimp together the edges in a decorative fashion. If desired, brush milk over top of the pie crust (this helps the crust brown more in the oven).

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes with a cookie sheet either under the pie or the rack below the pie. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.