Salted Caramel Apple Bars

The summer of 2015 will go down in Washington state as being one of the driest and hottest yet.  Wild-fires ravaged the eastern half of the state.  The low snowfall from the previous winter caused alpine streams to cease flowing.  Even our Olympic National Park that is home to two rain forests was shaken by forest fires.  Now that we are rounding the corner into fall with they blustery wet days Seattle is famous for, many who call the Evergreen State home – myself included – are breathing a sigh of relief.  Aaaaaaaaah…. **kicking feet up on the ottoman with a cup of tea**

Seattleites in particular are not made for heat.  We melt. We whine. We order rotating fans in bulk with our Amazon Prime accounts….

This year, more than any other I can recall, Fall weather is a  welcome and refreshing change.  Sweaters, boots, and warm drinks: Bring ’em on!

Fall in these parts is also synonymous with Washington apple season.  Hello, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady!  Whether they are a crisp refreshing snack or the star in a warm-your-soul dessert, apples are the best!

Ever since I was young, apples dipped in gooey caramel are a weakness favorite of mine.  My latest caramel + apple addiction has been dipping apple slices in this salted caramel dip.

If you are also a caramel + apples fan (a.k.a. the best kind of people), then these gooey salted caramel apple bars have your name written alllll over them.

The warm nuttiness of whole wheat flour mixed with butter and brown sugar topped with thinly sliced apples, homemade salted caramel, and a little streusel will make these caramel apple bars your new best friend.

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So Fall weather, its time to officially introduce myself, and I think these bars will send the right message for my welcome-wagon to Fall.  Fall: Come on over to the beautiful city of Seattle!  We promise we won’t rain on you …. too much.  😉

Salted Caramel Apple Bars

For the Crust and Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

For the Filling

  • 2 large crisp granny smith, pink lady, or similar apple variety; very very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • raw turbinado for sprinkling on top of fully assembled bars

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl combine rest of crust ingredients, then add 1/3 at a time to the butter mixture.  Mixture should be crumbly.  Set aside approximately 1 1/4 cups of mixture.  Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of  a parchment lined 13 x 9 inch pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and then remove from oven.

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Now to the caramel.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the brown sugar. After the sugar crystals have dissolved but before the mixture starts to bubble heavily, slowly stir the cream into the mixture.  Continue to stir over heat until a thickened sauce forms and it can coat the back of a chilled spoon.  This should only take a couple of minutes.

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Assembly: Arrange apple slices over the crust once it has been removed from the oven.  Then pour the caramel sauce over the apple slices.  Crumble the streusel topping over the top and adorn with turbinado for crunch and sparkle if desired.

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See all of the the sparkly little turbinado crystals?

Bake the assembled bars for 30 minutes.

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After the bars are done baking, use the parchment to remove bars from baking dish immediately (to prevent over-baking).  Then allow the bars to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

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Now the only thing I have left to master with these is moderation.  I could eat the whole pan!  If I were to eat all of it, but didn’t cut it into slices, can that mean that I only ate one piece?  

We haven’t finished the last of this batch and I am already wracking my brain for excuses to make these again and again.  Hurry up and host a holiday party, someone!!  I’ll be bringing these!

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