Every year, my family and I go to a local orchard to pick a wide variety of amazing apples. October, November, and sometimes even December — depending on how good the storing varieties are in any given year — find a bowl of apples out in the kitchen or on the dining room table and I work apples into all kinds of baked goods, snacks, and sauces. And, with Thanksgiving happening soon and any number of festive food events right afterward and through the New Year, ideas that will feed a crowd are particularly nice. And when you are looking for a show-stopping kind of nice, look no further than these fantastic Caramel Apple Pie Bars!
When choosing apples to make these bars, I like to mix it up a little bit. Something a little tart, like Granny Smith, combined with a sweet variety, like Cortland or MacIntosh, can be quite charming. If you want, five apples will give you a lot of opportunity to play with flavors and textures. Consider it a chance to explore some of the over 7,500 varieties of apples grown on this planet!
I use a jar of my favorite caramel ice cream topping — the thick, luxurious kind made with lots of butter — and put some in the bars and generously drizzle each bar with more when it's time to serve it up! You can make your own topping if you'd like, but if you're like me, you are already putting together a lot of other food and the steps saved by using a good jar of topping really saves a lot of time and effort.
You can also add a dollop of whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I actually like these bars best with the caramel drizzle and a cup of coffee, tea, or warmed cider. It's the epitome of sweet comfort food - just in time for holiday gatherings!
- 2 ½ c. flour
- 6 T. granulated sugar
- ½ c. butter, softened
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ c. plain yogurt
- 1-2 T. milk, if needed
- 5 apples - peeled, cored, thin (1/4”) sliced
- ¼ c. flour
- ¼ c granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- 1 c. caramel ice cream topping, divided
- 1 c. rolled oats
- ⅔ c. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ c. flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ c. butter - cold, cut into small cubes
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. Place all of the crust ingredients into a large bowl. With your hands, mix until a soft dough is formed. If the dough seems too stiff, add 1-2 tablespoons milk until it is pliable.
Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, pressing it into the corners and up the edges. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and increase the oven heat to 350°F. Prepare the filling and topping while the crust cools slightly.
Place the apple slices in a large bowl. Mix the next four ingredients (flour through nutmeg) together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over apple slices; mix until they are all evenly coated. Place the apples over the crust in an even layer. Drizzle or pour ½-¾ cup of the caramel ice cream topping over the apples. It doesn’t need to completely cover them.
Mix together all of the streusel ingredients except the butter. Using a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is in small (pea-sized) pieces. Scatter the streusel evenly over the caramel sauce.
Bake in the 350°F preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Drizzle any extra caramel over the bars when serving.
- Yields: 4-6 servings
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes