How to make Caramel Apple Bars

How to make Caramel Apple Bars

Making Caramel Apple Bars for my kids and their friends have always been a really big hit.  A few years ago I ran another blog called Chef Kimihou and Co.  This blog followed my life as a homeschooling mom and chef raising two kids.  We did this Facebook live series called the 12 days of Christmas and one of the recipes was, of course, Caramel Apple Bars!  My kids loved this recipe and honestly I had forgotten about it until recently when someone asked me for it.

Thankfully we were able to recover the recipe and all is well with the world.

I can’t bake pies…

No seriously.  I never learned how to make pies, from scratch.  The week we did pies in culinary school, I was one of three students selected to spend my class time at the Governors Mansion here in Atlanta building their Gingerbread house.  So naturally, we missed out on that very important classtime,

So while I was not very sure how I could tackle making pie crust from scratch without having a soggy bottom, I’ve always known how to make a pie filling!  For years I would make what is considered a pie filling and add it as a filling to my cakes.  YUM!.  Well we went a step further with this recipe and I decided to make it a bar instead.

Understanding the process

After preheating the oven to 350 F, spray your 9*13 pan with nonstick baking spray.  My favorite is baker’s joy, but honestly, any baking spray works.  Cream the butter and brown sugar until creamy.  Beat in salt, baking soda and the spices (yes before the flour).  Then on a low-speed mix in the flour until combined.  It’s going to be crumbly y’all!  That’s okay, it’s supposed to be.

Separate out 3.4 cups of crust and stir in the toasted pecans!  (or make it nut-free and still reserve the 3/4 cup). ether into larger pieces. Set aside. Press remaining crust into pan.  Bake for 10 mins.

Apples Pie Filling (Topping)

Toss chopped apples with granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamon.  Add to a heavy bottom saucepan and cook until apples are tender.  Not soft but also no longer hard.    As the liquid from the apples begins to come together, you’ll notice it also becomes thicker and stickier!  This my friends is when magic is happening.

Caramel Sauce

In a separate pan let’s make our caramel sauce.  Be careful not to swish the sugar around in the pan.  This will absolutely cause crystallization in your caramel sauce if sugar is on the sides of your pan.  

Allow time to cool.

Back to our Recipe

Add apple pie filling (topping) to top of baked crust.  Pour caramel sauce in an even drizzle over the top of the apple mixture and top with reserved topping (from step one).  Return to oven for another 15-20 mins or until the topping is golden brown. Bars should be fork tender.  Allow time to cool.  Slice and serve.

Caramel Apple Bars
Yield: 12-24 bars

Caramel Apple Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This decadent caramel apple treat is a winner with all the kids in my life!

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup room temp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Apple Filling:
  • 4-5 granny smith apples
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

    Create the Crust

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Spray your 9*13 pan with nonstick baking spray. 

Cream the butter and brown sugar until creamy. 

Beat in salt, baking soda and the spices (yes before the flour). 

On a low-speed mix in the flour until combined. 

It's going to be crumbly y'all!  That's okay, it's supposed to be.

Separate out 3.4 cups of crust and stir in the toasted pecans!  (or make it nut-free and still reserve the 3/4 cup). 

Set aside.

Press remaining crust into pan.  Bake for 10 mins.

Cook Filling

Toss chopped apples, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in a heavy bottom saucepan and cook the apples down until fork tender. The sauce will thicken.

Once the crust comes out of the oven, evenly spread the apple mixture over the top.

Drizzle caramel over the top and return to the oven for 15-20 min or until golden brown.

Caramel Sauce

Pour granulated sugar directly into the center of your saucepan. 

Add your water right one top and turn on your heat to medium-high. 

Stir the sugar and water with a wooden spoon or silicone spoon (only) until well dissolved. 

Once combined do not stir again

Add butter and whisk until dissolved.

Add the cream.  Do Not Stop Whisking!

Whisk through the bubbling and steam! 

Once smooth, allow time to cool

Notes

Now note: if you need to swirl the pot a little while making the caramel take note not to do it too often.  Allow the cooked sugar/water mix to turn a light amber color but don't burn it.  You can not walk away from this recipe.  The darker the caramel is the deeper the flavor.  For a nice, sweet, light flavor, we are aiming for a light amber color.


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