I can confidently say that these are without a doubt, the best bars I have ever had.
I thought I’d have too many of these bars so I sent a few of them up to one of my most favorite neighbors.
BIG mistake.(Love you, Rachel!!)
No one could keep their hands off of them. Even my “I only eat 12 grams of sugar a day” Father was hovering over the freshly baked pan, scrounging for scraps as I cut them into photo-worthy bars like some sort of sugar deprived love-struck vulture(with a better head of hair, of course).
They were gone before I knew it. Next time, I’ll make a full sheet pans worth of these babies.
These bars are not over complicated.
The shortbread consists of three ingredients and is SO easy to make. Were talking 1 minute shortbread here, folks.
AND, the same crust that is on the bottom of the bars is used for the crumble, so this is a two bowl(well, 1 bowl, 1 pan) venture. The baking dish doesn’t count because it’s lined with parchment so you won’t be washing that sucker.
But yes, no separate crumble to make for the topping. Just beautiful, golden, buttery shortbread crumbles.
The apple filling is quite simple to make as well. Apple slices are cooked in the caramel to cook out their liquid and then the whole thing is turned into a creamy, salted caramel apple filling that is baked on top of the pre-baked crust with crumbles of reserved shortbread dough melting into all the caramely apple goodness.
If you wanted, you could drizzle a little more salted caramel on top of the bars once their cool.
Though they are plenty sweet on their own, already.
And you might want to double the recipe. I’m just say’in.
- 3 C. Flour
- ¾ C. Powdered Sugar
- 1½ C. (3 sticks)Butter, softened
- 3 very large Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled, and sliced(1/8" thickness)
- 1½ C. Sugar
- ⅓ C. Water
- ¾ C. Heavy Cream
- 2 T. Butter
- 1 t. Coarse Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a 9x13 pan with a large sheet of parchment paper. Press parchment down to fit up the sides...there should be excess parchment hanging out of the pan.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour and powdered sugar.
- Add the butter to the mixer in large cubes. Mix until the ingredients JUST form a dough. Do not overmix.
- Pat just under ⅔ of the dough into the parchment lined baking dish, smoothing out the top until it is an even thickness. Reserve the rest of the dough for the crumble.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, make the caramel apple filling.
- Mix together the water and sugar in a saucepan or saute pan.(I prefer to use saute pans because everything cooks quicker and it's easier to fit the apples in)
- Heat the sugar and water on medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Bring the sugar to a boil(turn the heat up to high), brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent sugar crystals from forming. When the sugar has caramelized to a nice, amber brown(this should take anywhere from 3-6 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your pan), add the apples to the caramel and stir constantly. The apples will release liquid when they hit the caramel and cause the caramel to harden a bit in places. Continue stirring, the caramel will melt back down after a minute or two.
- Continue to cook the apples on high heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the liquid they released has been cooked out and the caramel is thick again.
- Add the cream, butter, and salt to the pan, stirring constantly(protect your hands from splattering with oven mitts). The mixture will froth and bubble. Continue cooking(on high heat) until it settles back down.
- Once the mixture is glossy and smooth, remove from heat.
- Pour the caramel apples over the top of the baked crust. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the caramel apples.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until caramel is bubbly and the crumble is lightly golden brown.
- Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting....I would even recommend refrigerating it for several hours before cutting it so that the caramel will firmly set up.
- Serve cold.
Tina @ Just Putzing Around the Kitchen says
Wahhh these look insanely delicious! Saving this recipe immediately – my husband loves apple stuff, and he will go nuts for these 😀
[email protected] says
Ahh! These bars are oozy, gooey perfection, Kayley! I’m dying over how incredible they look! With it really cooling down around here, I could really go for a bite of fall! Pinned!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen says
Oh yum! That drizzle of caramel is killing me. They look so delicious and the perfect fall treat!
Jessica | A Happy Food Dance says
Well your description has totally sold me on these – plus I have been all about caramel apple lately (so I was an easy sell)
Sarah @ SnixyKitchen says
Girrrrrrl! I wish I were your neighbor right about now (although maybe not because I’d definitely have eaten all of them in one sitting and would be sitting here with a headache thinking “WORTH IT!”) 😉
These were as delicious as promised and so pretty too. I wish that I had been warned, however, that the caramel sauce is slloooooooowwwwww to make. I had a moment of panic in the middle when the sugar re-crystalized and then took forever (a solid 30 minutes) to melt again. I’m not sure if I didn’t have the heat up high enough, or my pan was too thick, but all told, I spent well over an hour stirring. A couple of pictures of the caramel making stage or a link to a caramel recipe would have been really helpful in expectation management. My guests loved them, though (one guy wouldn’t stop scraping his bowl and licking his spoon), so thank you for a super tasty recipe!
I’m so glad you and your guests liked them, Jewel! But sorry that your caramel apples took so long to cook! When I make these my apples take 15-20 minutes from start to finish. It could be that your heat wasn’t high enough. I cook on a very powerful gas range and I notice that cooking times definitely can change depending on your stove type. Electric stove tops won’t be as powerful, as well as even some gas ranges(my in-law’s gas range always takes me twice as long to cook on!). But I did change the recipe to specify that high heat needs to be used the entire time with the caramel. =)
I had the same panic. I was wondering if maybe the sugar is supposed to be brown sugar?
I made these last weekend and they were so so good! I had one when it was still warm out of the oven..oh my goodness! Brought them to people at the leasing office and they loved them, thank you for the delicious recipe!
Thank you Jennifer! I’m so glad you liked them! Thanks for letting me know =)
Epic fail for me…..x 2. First time I kept looking for an amber color to no avail and it all crystallized rock solid on my pan. Attempt number two I was so nervous to have it happen again that it never got thick. At one point in the recipe it tells me to continue cooking (on high heat). I rarely cook on high heat so my question is….was I supposed to be cooking on high heat the entire time? Was that my issue? Maybe third time will be a charm and it will turn out. These look so scrumptious that I don’t want to give up on this recipe but I am not getting the caramel as shown in the end result. I agree with another gal that some step-by-step pictures may be helpful.
Sorry you had a hard time. If your sugar crystallized then it wasn’t fully dissolved. If there is even a speck of undissolved sugar in the pan it will always crystallize. Caramel is one of most technical things to make and can be quite finicky. You don’t cook on high heat the whole time, just after the sugar is dissolved, as the recipe states. At that point you want the heat to be high enough that the caramel will get rid of the liquid in the apples quicker, once their added. There are a lot of step by step picture tutorials out there for basic caramel instructions. Here is one that I find helpful: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Caramel
If you make it again I hope it works better for you! Thanks for your feedback!
[email protected] says
These look ah-mazing!!
Thank you Ami!
I used half/half I don’t know if it’s going to come out.step by step photos would help. Thanks for the recipes. Like all baking I just have to practice before I get it right.
Katie Epperson says
All purpose flour or self-rising flour?
All purpose =)
I too had an epic fail of monstrous proportions with the caramel sauce! The question I had the entire time is HOW LONG does the water and sugar take to caramalize? I jumped the gun and added the apples too soon it seems and now my entire fish is ruined and I’m supposed to bring it to a party. Sadness! Don’t make right before an event if you’ve never done caramel before! But I’m going to try again soon because these look too delicious to never try them!
Depending on the size of pan and how high your heat it, the sugar can take anywhere from 3-6 minutes to caramelize. You’ll know it’s ready for the apples to be put in when it has turned a medium amber brown color, as the recipe states. Caramel is a tricky thing to make and definitely takes practice if you haven’t made it a lot. I will look at putting a tutorial or video up on making the caramel portion of the recipe for those interested.
Thanks for your feedback!
I have made the apple shortbread crumble 3 times…once with Gala apples ( I didn’t want to wait to go to the store for Granny Smiths), next time with Granny Smiths, then I substituted pears, a combination of anjou and bosc that I had on hand for the third batch. OMG, I had to cut them up and get them out of my house! They are deadly addictive. My friends, co workers and my family are wild for them. Just writing about them makes my mouth water :). Thank you for such a great recipe!!
Thank you so much, Darlene! I totally agree with you, they are so addictive! Thank you for your kind comment!
Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker says
Totally dying right now at the looks of these bars! They look (and sound) nothing short of freakin’ amazingggg.
Hi! These look great and I am about to make these. But I have one question. Is the butter salted or unsalted? Thanks!
Hi Diane! I always use salted butter unless otherwise stated. Hope you like them and thanks for stopping by!
Has anyone tried recipe variations of these in different size or types of pans? I’m considering increasing the batch size and using full or half sheets or cupcake liners for an upcoming birthday.
When I make these I almost always double the recipe and bake them in a full sized sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Just make sure to use a big enough saute pan for caramelizing the apples =)
Loved these! Turned out perfectly. Can’t wait to make a giant batch for an event. With this combination you just can’t go wrong. Thanks Kaylee!
Is the one and a half cups of sugar brown or white?? I’m thinking brown !!
Hi Carole! It’s white, actually =)
Omg absolute amazing . I made it today for a senior lunch for Monday. I tried a bit of it and it was wonderful . Caramel was a bit of work but I’m sure as I make it again it will get easier well worth the extra effort
Yay! So glad you liked the bars, Janet! xo
Could you not use a pre pared caramel sauce for this recipe? Seems a lot of people are having trouble with that step. They look delicious, I’ll have to attempt it.
You could try it! I’d love to hear how it turns out if you attempt it =)
Hi! Could I use my regular condensed milk (boiled in the can) caramel?
Hi Shelly! I think it should work fine. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!
These look super yummy! Is it possible to use ready made caramel in a block instead of going to all that bother making your own? I have a huge block of caramel waiting which I use for making turtles etc. Thanks for a reply:)
Thanks Pamela! I think you would be fine to use the pre-made caramel =)
Roberta Holm says
Why can’t I print your receipe’s, I’ve been on this site for a long time and always have a problem.
I’m an avid cook but I’ve always been afraid of homemade caramel. So I thought I’d bite the bullet and give this a try. First attempt at the caramel was a DISASTER! Lol. I didn’t have the heat up high enough and it was a giant crystallized sugar mess. There were a few choice words thrown out and a serious thought of giving up, but I persevered. And I’m glad I did! The second attempt was amazing! These are not what I’d call a simple recipe and it CERTAINLY messes up its share of dishes, but they are worth it! After cooling on the counter and chilling in the fridge for a few hours, they cut beautifully and oozed gooey delicious caramel. Winner!!