These browned butter and salted caramel baked apple pie bars are chewy, crunchy, and the perfect autumn treat!
Have you been out apple picking yet? I didn’t even know that was Fall tradition until I met my hubs; I’d never been apple picking before that. But as a born and raised Vermonter, he had much to teach me about apples. And that was – they make an excellent apple pie. The husband is completely obsessed with apple pie. It’s his favorite dessert and one that he will eat for every meal of the day. I’m not even kidding. Each time I make an apple pie it is gone within one or two days, and he’s the only one that eats it since I’d rather have cinnamon roll fondue or something lathered in way more chocolate than most people eat in a
So when we recently went apple picking at the cutest little farm, all he had on his mind was apple pie. The first question – “how many apples do we need for two pies?” The second question, “is this enough to make 2 big apple pies?” The third question, “You are sure this enough? It will make two pies??” Clearly, snacking on these picked apples were not in his plans – they would be for apple pie making and apple pie making ONLY. Oh, and there had to be 2 pies. Because that was clearly very important too!
Which whenever the husband requests anything, I’m all over that. He’s such a chill, “I like whatever you make” kind of guy. So the requests? Those are fun for me. And the very next day after apple picking, I woke up early and set to making his favorite apple pie. In case you were wondering, he did eat it for breakfast that day, lunch that afternoon, dinner that evening, and breakfast the following day. And then it was gone and he was ready for the next one. And as much as I wanted to make another pie for him right away, I just couldn’t. I am not someone that likes to make the same thing twice, and it was too soon to make another apple pie. So these delicious salted caramel and browned butter apple pie bars ensued. And these are bars that I’ll take over chocolate any day. Okay, most days.
They are gooey, flavorful, caramel-y, and just plain yum.
Plus, salted caramel? Browned butter? Mmmm 🙂
These bars are super simple to make. But I won’t lie to you, they still take a while. Not as long as an apple pie (with a lattice crust), but they are still a bit time consuming. You will still need to peel and chop the apples. A crust does need to be made, and caramels need to be unwrapped plus melted. Easy steps that flow together well, but time consuming nonetheless.
Nothing that won’t be worth your time and a half though. That crust – I could have eaten it completely plain it tasted so delicious! Fine, you caught me, I did have a few spoonfuls of it! And the caramel + apple bit, well that is the perfect match. And if you aren’t a fan of apple pie, these are the perfect replacement! (I think I ate more of these than the husband!)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 and 3/4 cup white flour
- 1 and 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 medium-sized granny smith apples
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 package (14 ounces) regular caramels unwrapped (not the mini ones)
- 2 tablespoons half and half or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: sea salt for sprinkling
Heat a skillet on medium heat. Slice the butter into thin pieces so it melts more evenly. Add the butter to the skillet and whisk it frequently.
Once the butter is melted, it will foam up a bit, subside, turn a light brown color, and then have a nutty aroma. This is how you know it has been browned. Remove from heat immediately before the brown turns black. If it does turn black or burn, you will need to start over again with new butter.
Pour the butter into another bowl. Add in the brown sugar, flour, quick oats, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed and the mixture is a bit crumbly.
Take out 2 and 1/2 cups and set them aside.
Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Press down and make sure the crust is even throughout. Set aside.
Peel the apples, remove the cores, and then chop into small pieces. Place the small pieces in a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. Coat them in the flour and place on top of the bottom crust.
In a small skillet over medium heat, place all of the unwrapped caramels, half and half, and vanilla. Stir frequently until completely melted and smooth. If you want a more salty flavor, stir some salt into the caramel too (as opposed to just sprinkling the bars with sea salt after they've been baked)
Pour over the chopped apples.
Crumble the reserved 2 and 1/2 cups over the melted caramel.
Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 25-28 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and cooked through.
Remove and allow to completely cool and set up.
Lightly sprinkle salt over the bars and slice using a wet knife.
Here are some more apple treats: