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side view of apple pie bars stacked on a white plate with a pot of salted caramel sauce and a glass of milk

Apple Pie Bars with Salted Caramel Sauce


  • Author: Allison Ferraro
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes (some of the prep time and cook time happens simultaneously)
  • Yield: 16 bars (one 8x8 pan) 1x

Description

Apple pie bars are a delicious (and quick and easy!) alternative to classic apple pie. Made from scratch with a brown sugar shortbread crust, cinnamon apple filling, and streusel topping (plus a drizzle of salted caramel), this easy dessert recipe is simple enough for weeknight baking yet impressive enough to serve at your Thanksgiving feast.


Ingredients

Scale

for the shortbread crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature

for the apple filling:

  • 2 apples*
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

for the streusel topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 T unsalted butter, melted

salted caramel sauce, for drizzling on top (optional)


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8x8 pan lightly with cooking spray** and set aside.
  2. Make the shortbread crust. Add flour, brown sugar, and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a very crumbly dough.
  3. Pour the dough into the prepared pan and gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan to create a solid crust. Make sure the crust reaches all the way into the edges and corners of the pan and that there are no holes in the crust.
  4. Bake the crust until it’s a light golden brown, about 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven but keep the oven on. While the crust bakes, prepare the apple filling and streusel topping.
  5. Prepare the apple filling. Core the apples, peel them using a vegetable peeper or a small, sharp knife, and slice each apple into 16 wedges. Place the apples in a medium bowl and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until the apples are well coated. Set aside.
  6. Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until a crumbly mixture forms.
  7. Place the apple slices over the par baked crust so that all of the crust is covered. Do not add any liquid from the bottom of the bowl to the pan. Crumble the streusel topping over the apple slices. Return the pan to the to the 350°F oven and bake for another 30 minutes or until the streusel topping becomes golden.
  8. Let the pie bars cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. To serve, slice into bars and drizzle each with salted caramel sauce.

Notes

Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*As I do with my apple pie, I recommend a mixture of apples for this recipe to give the bars a more complex apple flavor. You'll want to use only firm apples (no Macintosh apples) for this recipe. I used one Honeycrisp apple (sweet flavor, firm texture) and one Granny Smith apple (tart flavor, firm texture) for these bars.

**You may also choose to line the baking pan with parchment before spraying it with cooking spray. Lining the pan with parchment will allow you to easily remove the bars from the pan by pulling up on the edges of the parchment. I opted not to use parchment for a cleaner look so that I could serve the bars from the same pan that I baked them in, and I was able to able to easily remove the bars after slicing one in the pan.

  • Category: Dessert, Bars, Pie

Keywords: apple pie bars, brown sugar shortbread, streusel topping, salted caramel sauce, easy Thanksgiving dessert, easy dessert bars