Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caramel Apple Crumble Bars

Are there two things that say "Fall is coming!!" more than apples and caramel? Together? I think not.

Every year I struggle with the fact that summer is waning and fall is moving in.

Even now, as I write about a delectable fall treat, the war wages! It doesn't help that it's still about 80 degrees outside.

And hey people! Fall isn't officially here until Saturday!

Maybe you're welcoming fall with arms wide open, already stirring the soup kettle, scouting out the pumpkin patches, lighting up your apple scented candles and drizzling caramel and/or shaking cinnamon on everything imaginable.

But, if you're like me and you need something to get you in the mood for crisp cool nights, boots, pumpkin lattes and spiced cider, here's a surefire recipe. Watch out! It'll be here before we know it.

Caramel Apple Crumble Bars
adapted from Annie's Eats
makes about 16 bars

2 TB unsalted butter
4 large (or 5 med.) apples, peeled and sliced
3 TB sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
9 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
2 TB heavy cream

1 1/2 cups 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 cinnamon
12 TB cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 lg. egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9x9 in. baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Grease.

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

Meanwhile, prepare the dough. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend. Add in the butter and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and stir with a fork just until a crumbly dough begins to form. Transfer about two thirds of the dough to the foil lined pan and press down into an even layer. Bake until light golden, about 12-14 min.

While the base is baking, combine the caramels and cream in a saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the caramels, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is totally smooth. Remove from 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 apple slices.

Bake 22-25 min. or until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

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