Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars
Last night I watched the documentary “Fed Up” which basically talks for an hour and a half about how sugar is the devil and the food conglomerates are the cause of the obesity crisis in America and how sugar kills and we’re all going to die from sugar because we eat like 10x as much a day as we should. It resonated with me. And I was all like yeah, screw food companies, I’m going to spend $100 on all organic shit at the grocery store today because sugar is the devil. Until I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I was like forgive me sugar for I have sinned, you are not the devil. It’s TV. TV is feeding me lies about you. I love you. They said natural sugar was okay, so I’m just going to pour it all over these FRESH organic apples and then we’ll call it a day. But really, can you blame me? I mean take one look at the photos in this recipe, and even if you make nothing else this fall, make this salted caramel sauce. Because once that is in your veins, you’re a goner. Cocaine for sweet tooth. I also watched Fed Up while eating takeout chicken teriyaki and frozen yogurt, so yolo.
I was afraid if I went pumpkin for a third week in a row some of you pumpkin haters would get annoyed with me, and since they were selling apples by the bag full this morning I decided I’d take the good ol’ apple a day approach with baking today. Last year I made some Salted Caramel Apple Crumb bars which were duh-licious and since I don’t like to repeat recipes, I found a similar yet different one while browsing the world wide interweb this morning. This recipe is nice because it makes a smaller portion in an 8×8 dish so you arent sitting there peeling 44 apples until your hands are pruney and bleeding. Sally’s recipe calls for 2 large apples, but I used 4 small/medium size Gala apples and got them all nice and sliced up with my mandolin. It looks like a lot of ingredients below, but many of them are repeated in each step, this just nicely breaks out how much you need at each step in the process.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large apples (or 4 small apples), peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
Step 2: To make the crust, mix together the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract an salt together in a bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3: To make the apple pie filling, combine the apple slices, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. I used my mandolin to get even-sliced apples, but you can just use a regular knife if you’re more precise than I am. Set this aside.
Step 4: To make the streusel topping, whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with either a pastry blender or two knives until it is coarsely blended. I am a big fan of the pasty blender for situations like this.
Step 5: Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the temperature up to 350 degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the war crust, making sure to press them down to fit tightly. Sprinkle the apple layer with the streusel and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Step 7: To make the salted caramel sauce, heat the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring with a rubber spatula. Sugar clumps will start to form and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn at this step. Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter in, being careful not to get burned because the caramel will bubble rapidly when you start adding the butter in.
Step 8: At this point, switch to a whisk, and very slowly drizzle in the heavy cream while whisking constantly. Let the caramel mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow it to cool before using (or taste testing). You can store this caramel in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
These apple pie bars can be enjoyed hot or chilled, or straight from the oven with a fork in my opinion. The salted caramel sauce is seriously the nectar of the gods. I was dipping an apple in it and later just straight up with a spoon. Judge me if you will, but try it for yourself and then tell me if you wouldn’t stick an IV drip with this sweet sweet sugar right into your veins. And because my coworkers are messier than 2-year-olds, I nicely packaged these in muffin tins for easy single-serve grab-and-go style apple pie bars for Monday morning.
I’m in a little bit of a sugar coma right now. And it’s almost 10pm on Sunday. Where does the weekend go? So let’s try to quickly get through some highlights from the past week. I’m still surviving crossfit. I made a crossfit friend, which is nice and makes it easier to have someone to near puke with me while doing infinity burpees. Thursday night after crossfit where I lifted heavy things and wanted to eat my arm, I was walking through Back Bay heading to my car when I walked past this girl who was sitting on the curb not looking super great. The lady in front of me kept looking back, and finally I turned around to go check on her because something just didn’t seem right. Well the abridged version of the story, is when I got close I could smell that she took Thirsty Thursday a bit too aggressively and was too drunk to stand up (at 8pm). I finally was able to get her to stand up and lean on me, while I flagged down a non-sketchy older looking man who helped me flag down a cab for her. And then I got all Southie with the cab driver who didn’t want to take her – but she gave him her address, and we had her pre-pay the flat rate to go outside the city so that she could get home safely. It felt like one of those episodes of Dateline’s “What would you do?” And when the other guy and I were walking through the train station heading home, he asked if I thought we did the right thing. He thought we did. Who knows. And while I suspect she woke up with a pretty brutal hangover and hefty cab bill Friday morning, thankfully she was lucky that some creep didn’t find her before we did. So that’s my good deed of the week.
My favorite time of year has started up again. TENNIS season. Where I get to take out my weekly work frustrations out on soccer moms across eastern Mass. I had my first doubles match of the season yesterday, which ended in a cat fight and a tie – but a few of those “once in a lifetime” points that made the drama of the match totally worth it. I’m talking, having some biatch hit a drop shot cross court while you’re behind the baseline because she knows her grandma knees wouldn’t be able to sprint to it. But that’s the benefit of being a “young gun.” If I see you hit a sassy shot like that, I will sprint like there’s no tomorrow and return that shot for the win. God, I love competition. And then at the end of the match, I offer up my homemade pumpkin cinnamon sugar donuts that has the competition saying “is there anything she can’t do?” Nope. There is not. I’ll overhead smash a ball to your face and then crush the competition on the snack table. (which some may say is NOT a competition …)
Anyways, I may have taken the match yesterday a little too aggressively, and there was no chance I was moving last night between tennis and the pouring rain. I made a really solid purchase last week that I’ve been eyeing for a while – the ice cream maker attachment for my kitchenaid mixer. So I put some coconut greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, devil sugar in the mixer and folded in some chopped dark chocolate chunks and oh baby baby, hit me one more time. SO good. I bought some fresh mint this morning to try out a mint chocolate fro-yo recipe later this week. And of course I guiltily ate my homemade fro-yo watching Fed Up last night. Because I’m a grown ass lady and I do what I want. Like going to bed at 9:30 on a Saturday. But that meant I was up and at ’em early today. Hit up the grocery store early, went for a power walk with my friend Heather because the weather was friggin gorgeous, and made this maple butternut squash soup in the slow cooker.
And then I went to the Assembly Row movie theater which is my new favorite because there is ASSIGNED SEATING and huge comfy chairs, which means you don’t have to get there half an hour early to get a decent seat. My anxiety appreciates that. I met Colleen and Allie at the movies to see Gone Girl. First, the book is AMAZING. I read it last year on vacation and was so hooked I read it in less than two days. Second, the movie has two scenes that are bloody. Like BLOOODDY MURDER kind of bloody. Thankfully I anticipated this and covered my ears and closed my eyes until Colleen let me know I could look again. I did not want to start blacking out like the time I watched Twilight in the movie theater and Bella is giving birth to a vampire baby who is ripping her insides apart so Edward eats her stomach open and it’s like the most unnecessarily bloody scene and I spent the rest of that movie with my head between my knees and half my clothes stripped off in the theater.
So that’s it. Next week is a long weekend, so expect some good baking recipes because I’ll have no excuse not to try out a few things with the long weekend. Happy almost Monday. Make good choices.