Apples get kind of a bad reputation. All that talk about doctors, apples, days...that's not appealing. Heck no.
Tell you what, you want me to eat that apple? How about slather it in butter and sugar and we'll talk.
I'm kidding of course. Truthfully this fall I've really rediscovered my true love of good tart but not too tart delicious delicious apples.
I won't lie...dipping apples in the copious amounts of the leftover salted caramel sauce you're going to have does NOT hurt. Not at all.
I brought these in to work and they were just gobbled down and RAVED about. I love everything about these. Something about the saltiness of the caramel sauce is sweet sweet magic. Apples slathered in sugar and cinnamon, duh, so awesome. Buttery crumb crust? Oh yeah buddy, you better believe it.
If you like those crazy good salted caramel frappucino's at Starbucks...eat these. Eat them now.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars
(slightly adapted from two peas and their pod)
2 cups white sugar
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 Tbsp sea salt flakes (I used Fleur de Sel...yes, it's important that you go gourmet on this)
5 peeled, diced, large Granny Smith apples
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp corn starch
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all-spice
3 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the sauce: make sure you have all the ingredients on hand, prepared and ready. Once you start caramel, there's no stopping. In addition to the ingredients, you will want a candy thermometer. Or at least I did. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat in a heavy, medium sized sauce pan. When the sugar starts to melt, begin to whisk it constantly. The sugar will clumb, but don't panic. Keep whisking and it will all melt down.
Once the sugar has melted down, you can stop whisking and swirl it around in the pan until it reaches a dark amber color and measures 350 degrees on your candy thermometer. As soon as it reaches 350 degrees, remove it from the heat or it will burn. Whisk the butter into the sugar until it has melted. Immediately add the heavy cream in a steady stream, whisking until the caramel is smooth. Whisk in the sea salt flakes. Allow the caramel to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then pour it into a large mason jar to further cool. Take a little taste. Pat yourself on the back.
For the apple filling: Place the diced apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Gently stir to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, corn starch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice. Pour the mixture over the apples and stir until well combined and all apples are covered.
For the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Try to move rather quickly, you don't want that butter getting to warm. Mix the egg and vanilla together and pour it into the butter mixture, stir to distribute. The dough will be very crumbly, that's perfect.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Press 1/2 the dough into the bottom of the pan, creating an even layer. Pour the apples over the dough, evenly distributing them. Drizzle about 3/4 cup caramel sauce over the apples, and crumble the remaining dough on top.
Bake in preheated oven on the center rack about 45 minutes. Your house is going to smell oh so right. Once the crumb topping is a golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Before serving, drizzle with additional caramel sauce.
Note: you're going to have a lot of leftover caramel sauce. I suggest storing it in the fridge in that mason jar, and if you want to make it workable, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time before drizzling on all sorts of whatever you want. Enjoy!