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.
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!
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.