Caramel Apple Bars

October is about hay rides, apple picking, and Halloween. It's about carving pumpkins, making soup, and eating caramel apples. And if you think caramel apples are a bit too messy for you, why not make a batch of bars that bring together the flavors of this special treat without all the mess?

In these bars, between a buttery cinnamon crust and a crumbly topping dotted with slivered almonds and drizzled with caramel, a filling brimming with sliced apples, more cinnamon, and even more caramel waits. Every bite speaks of autumn and it quickly becomes my family's most-requested seasonal dessert. I used Honeycrisp apples for their telltale sweet-tart flavor and firm texture, but you could opt for a tarter version with Granny Smiths or a sweeter version with Pink Ladies. Pick your favorite firm apple for these bars.

These bars are amazing on their own, though you could add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. I personally pour myself a cup of coffee and just sit back and savor them!

Caramel Apple Bars

For the Filling & Topping:
  • 3 medium firm apples, peeled and thinly sliced - I used Honeycrisp
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ c. caramel sauce - divided
  • 3 T. slivered almonds - for topping
For the Crust & Crumble:
  • 1 ¼ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ c. butter, softened
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly mist an 8" square baking pan (or equivalent) with cooking spray. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, toss together the thinly sliced apples with the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce and toss to combine until well-coated; set these aside while you prep the dough for the crust and crumble.

To prepare the dough, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a bowl; set aside. Add the butter and brown and granulated sugars to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until well-combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate; add in the dry ingredients, mixing until combined, but crumbly. Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture for the crumble topping.

Press the remainder of the dough mixture gently into your prepared baking dish as evenly as possible, then add in the apple filling in as even a layer as possible. Sprinkle the reserved dough over the apples to create a crumble topping; sprinkle the almonds over the crumble topping.

Bake the bars for about 55 minutes (turning halfway through), until golden-brown; allow the bars to cool in the baking dish for 30 minutes before drizzling the top of the baked bars with the remaining 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce. Cut them into 9-12 bars, depending on the size bars you prefer.

  • Yields: 9-12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 75 minutes