Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars
So Fall is officially here. Which means it’s time to get some tote bags full of apples and get to baking. Yesterday I was driving my boat to the ramp to be taken out of the water for the season while drinking a pumpkin coffee from Dunkin Donuts. My mom and I bought an obnoxious amount of apples at the grocery store to do some experimenting with. I saw this recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Crumb bars on one of my favorite baking blogs (twopeasandtheirpod.com) and really wanted to try it, but know I would not have the patience to make these on my own in my little Boston kitchen. So I was very happy to have Mom as my assistance, especially because she took over the peeling and dicing apple step which I never like doing. There are a few different steps to this recipe, but it’s really very easy. You just need to have all of your ingredients out in advance and some patience.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (use fine, not coarse)
- 6 peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (you can use whatever kind of apple you like)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the caramel sauce first, because it needs time to cool before you use it.
To make the Salted Caramel Sauce:
1. Heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy quart saucepan. Once you see the sugar begin to melt, start whisking it. Continue to whisk it while the sugar clumps and continues to melt. You’ll notice it starts to turn a light amber color. Be very careful to keep whisking as to ensure it does not burn. Once the sugar is fully melted (you can swirl it in the pan) stop whisking. Continue to cool the caramel until it reaches a deep amber color. I don’t have a candy thermometer so we just had to eyeball it.
2. CAREFULLY add in the butter. Emphasis on carefully since I threw a chunk in and got hot sugar to the face. Owie. I cut the butter into tablespoons and added in slowly.
3. Once the butter is fully melted, take the saucepan off of the heat and slowly add in the heavy cream. Whisk it until it is well incorporated and the caramel is smooth.
4. Add in the sea salt flakes. Don’t use coarse sea salt. We made that mistake and it was gross, but luckily easy to strain out. Just use the fine sea salt. Let the caramel cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a bowl to let it come to room temperature. This makes2 cups of sauce which you can store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Now, while that caramel cools it’s time to make the apple filling and the crust.
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Step 6: To make the apple filling, peel, core and dice six Granny Smith apples. Toss in fresh lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over the apples and gently toss until well coated.
Step 7: To make the dough, in another large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture until the butter is mixed in, but there are still some small chunks of butter. You need to use cold butter here, not room temperature. I don’t have a pastry blender so if you’re like me just roll up your sleeves and work the dough with your hands. The dough will be crumbly.
Step 8: Take half of the dough and pat it into the greased baking dish.
Step 9: Spread the apple mixture evenly over the crust. Drizzle about 1 cup of salted caramel sauce over the apple filling. I asked my dad to take a picture of me spreading caramel on the apples. He proceeded to drop my iPhone right into the caramel. This is why he’s a better taste tester than baking assistant.
Step 10: Crumble the remaining dough over the apple caramel layer and gently pat. Look at this nice sideways shot.
Step 11: Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top if golden brown. Once cooled, cut into squares and drizzle with caramel sauce. We had to dig into this right away hot out of the oven, even though it was still before dinner time. It was actually funny to see the grown ups fighting with their forks to get a bite.
These seem complicated because of all the steps, but seriously it is worth the effort! I recommend trying to make it with another person if you can because it will be a lot easier. My Grandpa got a special piece wrapped up for him so my mom can deliver it to him tomorrow. Last week was a huge disappointment thanks to the Postal Service. I went to the post office at 7:30am on Monday morning to mail Grandpa some snickerdoodles. Weighed it on the automated self-serve machine. Called Grandpa every day starting Tuesday and no cookies! They were delivered back to my apartment on Friday saying I was 60 cents short. Stupid post office, YOU post marked it! Anyways, Grandpa will have a nice caramel apple bar delivered to him VIP style tomorrow … and these will be perfect for my coworkers as a nice breakfast treat.