Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars

With fall racing along at warp speed – how is it already the week of Halloween?? – I’m starting to feel the squeeze for getting to some of the fall-ish recipes I’ve filed away over the past few years.  I have been dying to make these apple cider caramel crumb bars for ages and I couldn’t bear to let another fall pass me by without them.

And remember those apple cider caramels I shared with you recently?  Well, we had a bunch leftover that are making a reappearance today and I’m confident you guys are going to love what I did to them in these crumb bars.

They’re a bit like the caramel crumb bars I made a few years back but consider these new bars “caramel crumb bars on steroids.”

Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars

The execution for these apple cider caramel crumb bars is simple.  You’ll make a shortbread-like base that also doubles as the crumb topping.  While you blind bake the cookie base, you’ll caramelize some sliced apples and melt the apple cider caramels down with a little cream.  Then you’ll pour the caramel over the cookie base, spread the apples over the caramel, and crumble the remainder of the cookie dough on top.

Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars

All baked off, these crumb bars had both of us dancing in the kitchen with pure love for them.  I know they’ll do the same for you too!

And listen, don’t fret if you don’t have the time to make the apple cider caramels – an equal amount of packaged caramels (like what Kraft makes) will work just perfectly here.  You may miss a bit of the deep apple flavor the apple cider caramels impart on these crumb bars but I promise you will not be disappointed.

Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars

What are you waiting for?? Go add these apple cider caramel crumb bars your fall baking list right this second!

Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars

  • Prep Time: 45min
  • Cook Time: 30min
  • Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients

For the filling:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 large (or 5 medium) apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about ¼-inch thick)
3 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground/grated nutmeg
9 oz apple cider caramel candies or Kraft caramels, unwrapped
2 tbsp heavy cream

For the dough:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
12 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Up to ¼ cup heavy cream (if needed)

Instructions

  • 01

    Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  If using foil, spray the foil with cooking/baking spray.

  • 02

    Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples, sugar, and spices; stir to coat the apples with sugar and spices.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the apples are browned and lightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and set the apples aside.

  • 03

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.

  • 04

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together to combine.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter/two knives/your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  With a fork, stir the egg yolk and vanilla into the mixture until it just comes together into a dough when you squeeze a handful together.  Mine was fairly dry and I added about ¼ cup heavy cream to help pull the dough together.  Add the heavy cream only if you’re having trouble getting the dough to come together.

  • 05

    Transfer two-thirds of the dough to the pan and press the dough into an even layer.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the top is a light golden brown.
    Heat the caramels and two tablespoons heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the caramels are completely smooth.  After you pull the pan from the oven, pour the hot caramel over the cookie base.  Add the apples in an even layer over the caramel.  Crumble the remaining dough over the apples.

  • 06

    Bake for 28-32 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the caramel is bubbling up around the edges ever so slightly.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing and serving.  You can stick the pan in the fridge to speed up the waiting process but serve the bars at room temperature.  The bars will keep for up to 2 days in a sealed container at room temperature.

adapted from Annie’s Eats

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  • Warm Vanilla Sugar
    October 28, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    I am SO EXCITED for these bars. They look positively delicious!

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea
    October 31, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Gosh wonderful crust and heavy on the apples—-we are talking apple pie! Then the caramels—–yikes out of sight!

    • November 2, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Thanks, Carol! The shortbread-like crust and topping really do pull these bars together – so good!!

  • Dalila G.
    November 1, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    What great combination of yumminess! 🙂
    You just can NOT go wrong with apples and caramels…..especially your apple cider caramels.
    This recipe will be made very soon in my house, talk about points for me with hubby. Thank you for sharing!

    • November 2, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Thanks, Dalila! Oh yeah, major points with the fam with these bars – they’ll beg you for seconds!

  • November 2, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    haha no worries!

  • November 8, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    […] Apple Cider Caramel Crumb Bars di Smells Like […]

  • November 17, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    […] inside cookies (yeessssss) but surely we can’t stop there.  My girl Tara recently made some insane looking crumb bars using them. Whoa. Being the caramel corn fiend that I am, it was only a matter of time before this […]

  • Maryam
    October 18, 2017 at 1:22 PM

    HI Tara,

    Just wondering if you have any idea how much of the 9×9 pan of homemade caramels would be equal to the 9 oz in the recipe? My scale stopped working so not so how I’m going to determine how much to use!

    Thanks!

    • Tara
      October 19, 2017 at 9:03 PM

      Hi Maryam, I’m sorry but I don’t have an answer for your question! Please let me know if you figured this out and how the bars turned out for you.

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