A butter shortbread crust with a generous layer of fresh apples and spices, topped with a crumbly oat streusel and homemade salted caramel sauce. Hello Fall! Make these salted caramel apple bars with caramel sauce for a quick and easy dessert that’s sure to please.
I don’t know where you live, but it is Fall all around. Normally, if I got to go home to upstate New York I would go home and go to the local cider mill and enjoy piping apple cider doughnuts and Because that is just isn’t in the cards this Autumn, I figured that doesn’t mean I can’t have my kitchen in abundance of apple recipes right?
The first thing I wanted to make when I got a big bag of local apples at the store were apple crisp bars.
But wait. Not just apple bars. Apple crisp bars. No wait. Let’s add salted caramel. Now we are talking people. Caramel makes everything better. Don’t you agree?
How To Make These Apple Bars
If you are using homemade caramel sauce, you will want to make that first. I used this caramel sauce recipe for these bars.
Then prepare the streusel by mixing together brown sugar, flour and oats. And cut in the softened butter. Then set this aside.
Now let’s make the shortbread crust. This crust is simple and buttery. Just a simple four ingredients! Butter, sugar, flour and little bit of salt. What makes this even better is it uses melted butter, so the crust comes together super fast.
Pro Tip: The key to anything made with flour is to not overmix. I always try to leave a streak of flour or two in the bowl to ensure I haven’t overmixed.
Then press the mixture into a 13×9 pan and bake for 20 minutes. While the crust is baking, go ahead and make the apple filling. Dice your apples and toss with flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the apple mixture over the par-baked crust.
Then drizzle your caramel sauce over. And top with the streusel and bake.
What Type Of Apples Are Best For Baking?
I used MacIntosh for these. They get very soft so I preferred them for these bars. I also love using a combination of Granny smith and Cortland apples for a perfect balance of sweet, tart, crisp and soft. If you can’t find those here are a few more great apples for baking:
- Golden Delicious
- Northern Spy
- Pink Lady
Tips For Making These Caramel Apple Bars:
- Be sure to measure your flour correctly by scooping and leveling. You can get a full tutorial on how to do that here.
- You need to use softened butter for the streusel. If you need to soften your butter quickly, check that out here.
- Line your pan with tinfoil so they are easy to remove from the pan.
If you love this recipe, then let me know by leaving me a comment and star rating below!
Salted Caramel Apple Bars
For the crust
- 14 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
For the Apple filling
- 6 medium apples 3-4 if you use larger apples
- 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the streusel
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 1/4 quick cooking oats
For the Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter chilled
- 1 Tablespoon fleur de sel any larger flaky salt will do
- To make the caramel sauce. Pour water into a medium sauce pan. Pour your sugar into the center of the pan. Be careful not to let the sugar crystals touch the side of the pan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and continue to boil until the syrup is thick and straw colored and your thermometer registers 300oFdegrees, about 15 minutes. Reduce your heat to medium and continue to cook until the sugar is deep amber and registers 350oF degrees, about 5 minutes.Meanwhile, bring your heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan over high heat. If you cream begins to simmer before your sugar is ready, remove the cream from heat and set aside. Remove the sugar syrup from heat. Carefully pour about 1/4 of your cream into your sugar syrup. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Let the bubbling subside, and add in the remaining cream. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in your butter and your salt
- To make the streusel topping: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, oats, flour, and cut in the softened butter (you can use a pastry cutter to do this or two knives). Set aside.
- To prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350oF degrees. Prepare a 13x9 pan with foil being sure to leave the edges hanging over for easy removal. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add in the melted butter. Stir to combine. Press into pan and bake for 20 minutes.
- To make the apple filling: While the crust is baking, dice the apples and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the flour, sugar and spices. Spread the apples over the par-baked crust. Drizzle with a 1/2 cup of caramel sauce.
- Crumble the streusel topping over the apples and caramel sauce. Bake for 30 minutes at 350oF/180oC
- Drizzle with more caramel sauce before serving. Cut into 16 small squares or 12 generous sized squares.