Sorry for the delay in posting the recipe—I can assure you that this week’s dorm treat was delivered on time, it just took me a few days to write about it. After getting back from a family wedding over the weekend, one of the only things I was able to do at home on Sunday evening was to bake these crumb bars. I was already in an autumn mood, as the wedding was in the New Hampshire mountains, surrounded by colorful leaves on all sides. I think it might be my favorite recipe yet! Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts. Over the weekend, my sister and I decided that we wanted our wedding cakes to be some sort of fruit crisp (my obvious first choice, ice cream cake, is a little logistically difficult). So I am a little partial to crisp/crumb desserts, which may be part of why I like this recipe so much. But it only gets better with the homemade salted caramel sauce. Drizzled throughout to make it extra gooey, it adds a nice extra sweetness to the apple. I always add some extra apple to the recipe as well. You can’t go wrong with fall apples.
The recipe makes a good amount of caramel sauce, so you will have a lot of extra. I’ve been eating it on baked apples all week to make my own caramel apple dessert. Or let’s just say that some of it goes on my apple, and some of it I just eat plain… if you don’t have time to make the whole crumb bar, just make the caramel and spoon it onto your apple for a tasty homemade fall dessert.
There are three parts to this recipe: the caramel, the apple filling, and the crumb crust. Make the caramel first to let it cool while you assemble the rest of the parts.
Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Bars from Two Peas and their Pod
Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tbs sea salt flakes (I just added a bit of Himalayan salt crystals)
5 cups diced/sliced apples
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
½ cup flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground all-spice
3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Salted Caramel Sauce Directions:
Pay close attention to these steps so you don’t burn it! I had never made caramel before this, but it turned out fine even without the sugar thermometer. Have all the ingredients ready and pre-measured.
- Heat the sugar over medium-high heat in a 2-3 quart saucepan. Start whisking it when it starts to melt. Keep whisking until it is fully melted.
- Continue cooking until it reaches a deep amber color—this is the step where it can burn so pay close attention. If you have a thermometer, it should be at 350F.
- Add the butter at this point and whisk until melted. Then remove from heat and pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until the caramel is smooth, then add in the salt.
- Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a jar to cool to room temperature while you make the apple crumb bars.
Apple Crumb Bars:
Preheat oven to 375F and spray a 9x13in baking pan.
- Place the diced apples in a bowl and add lemon juice. Mix slightly. In a separate bowl, mix flour cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground all-spice. Pour over apple mixture and mix.
- To make the dough, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in the chunks of butter with your hands (or a pastry cutter if you have one) until it is mixed in, although you while still have some small chunks.
- Mix the egg and vanilla together, then add into the flour and butter mixture.
- Press half of the dough into the greased pan. Then spread the apple mixture over it evenly. Drizzle the salted caramel sauce over this (use as much as you want, but it will probably be roughly ¾ cup). Then crumble the rest of the dough over this.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then drizzle again with caramel. The recipe says to let the bars cool before eating, but I can never resist warm apple crisp… I heard that the next night they still tasted just as good.