Monday, November 5, 2012

Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

There is something about apples that remind of growing up.  I don't know quite what it is but the smell of them takes me right back to my childhood.  

Maybe it's because our farm was surrounded by orchards.  I didn't know that apples from the store are different than apples picked right off a tree or bought from the local orchard stand.  

Those apples were crunchy, sweet, so juicy, and the flavor was amazing.  

It's another reason I love fall.  Apples.  I love to get them fresh and eat as many as possible.  Heaven!!

When Annie posted this I knew what I needed to do with those gorgeous apples sitting in my garage.  Not to mention the parents were coming over and I wanted to knock their socks off.  And man did this do it (I did sneak a corner--I just couldn't help it!).  It was absolutely fabulous.  The caramel, crumb topping, and sauteed apples will make you almost die of pure happiness.  The other thing better would be a scoop of ice cream on top of it!

Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

(click here for printable version)

2 tbsp butter
4 large apples, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
9 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
12 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  Set aside.

2. To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. While apples are cooking, prepare the dough.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and stir with a fork or knead very briefly just until a crumbly dough comes together.  Transfer two thirds of the dough mixture to the prepared baking pan and press down into an even layer.  Bake until light golden, about 12-14 minutes.

4. While the base is baking, combine the caramels and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Melt the caramels, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is totally smooth.  Remove from the heat.  Once the base layer is baked, pour the caramel over the top.  Layer with the cooked apple slices.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apple slices.  Sprinkle evenly with the chopped nuts, if using, and bake about 22-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Source: Annie's Eats
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