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.