This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KitchenAid. As always, all opinions and text are mine alone.
These delicious bars have gooey caramel coated apples sandwiched between a crumbly topping and a buttery crust all covered in even MORE homemade caramel. Step-by-step photos included!
I was chosen to create a delicious apple recipe for you guys for the new challenge KitchenAid is hosting called the KitchenAid Contest. You can join in on the contest by creating your own apple recipes, sweet or savory, and share your creations using the hashtag#KitchenAidContest on Instagram or Twitter OR go to the FoodNetwork website to enter. So fun, right? Four finalists will be chosen and sent to NYC to compete against each other judged by Chef Geoffrey Zakarian for a chance at the grand prize! The grand prize is 3 things: 1. You’ll receive the new suite of KitchenAid appliances in the first-ever black stainless steel – which are absolutely GORGEOUS. (I included a little sneak peak below along with the apple box I received but if you want an in-depth tour, you can scroll down to the end of this post and click the link there!) 2. A private cooking lesson with Chef Zakarian. 3. Your dish will appear in Food Network Magazine. How cool is that?! Good luck!
Now, let’s talk about these Caramel Apple Pie bars. This recipe starts the first of my Fall recipes! Ahh! Fall is my favorite time to bake because I absolutely love warm cozy flavors. These bars are going to be making an appearance all season long because they are SO ridiculously good! They’re crazy easy to make and are actually a play on my blueberry crumble bars which are one of my faves! If you are interested, I have included some step-by-step photos below the recipe to give you guys a visual.
The first step of this recipe is to make the caramel. Ohhh, this caramel is my absolute favorite and is the only recipe I use! I like to make it first because once it’s done, I slice my apples and stir them around in the warm caramel to let them tenderize and soften slightly so they cook through perfectly while baking. It’s pretty simple to make with a little patience and the right stove temperature, you’ll be set! Below is what it will look like once it cools to room temperature and sets. *Cue heart-eyed emoji*
The next step is the crust/crumble dough that you can make by hand, the use of a pastry cutter or I like to use my KitchenAid stand mixer because it makes this step a breeze! I have the Classic Plus 4.5-Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer and it gets the job done just perfectly. Just place all of the ingredients in the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip em’ up until a dough-like consistency forms. Two-thirds of this dough will be your crust and the remaining dough will be your crumble on top! The dough is so butter-y and flavorful from the use of all brown sugar. My fav!
The crust will be pre-baked and then the warm crust will be filled with the caramel apple mixture you made previously and then crumble the remaining dough (with the extra 3 tbs of flour mixed in) on top. I do have to mention that after your caramel apple mixture rests for a little while, the apples will release some of their juices and make the caramel more liquid-y than a normal thick caramel sauce. Don’t worry! This is okay and it’ll thicken back up from the heat while baking. And no, your crust will not be soggy.
These bars are so perfect for Fall or if you’re like me, you’ll probably be making them all year round!
Left: Melted sugar + water. | Middle: Starting to turn amber color. | Right: Perfect amber color.
First step is the caramel sauce. Heat water and sugar on HIGH heat and whisk just until the sugar is dissolved. You absolutely need to have your stove on high heat or you run the risk of seizing up the sugar, turning it into a solid mess. Once sugar is dissolved start swirling the pot by the handle in circular motions. It’s very important that you don’t disturb the caramelization process too much and is why you’ll need to swirl instead of whisk. Swirl constantly until the melted sugar turns a dark amber color, this will take about 5 minutes or so. The darker the amber color, the more intense caramel flavor you will have. After it turns dark amber, slowly and carefully pour in heavy cream. It will bubble up violently so you will need your whisk to whisk it very fast until it comes back down and it will start looking like caramel at this point. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
Place sliced apples in the pot of warm caramel and stir to coat. Allow them to sit and tenderize and soften slightly while you prepare your crust/crumble.
In the bowl of your KitchenAid Stand Mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir 3 cups of flour and brown sugar together to combine on low speed. Turn mixer onto medium speed and slowly cut in butter until a coarse texture resembling peas is achieved. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fully combined. Your mixture should have a dough-like texture.
Take 2/3 of that dough and press it into your prepared pan into an even for your crust. Bake crust for 10 minutes.
Left: Baked Crust
Take your apples and caramel and pour them over the warm, baked crust. The caramel may have thinned out a lot from the apples releasing their juices, not to worry because it will thicken back up from the heat of the oven.
Now, take the remaining dough and add 3 tbs of flour to it to loosen it up. Give it a spin in your KitchenAid stand mixer until it breaks up into little pieces. If it doesn’t break up enough, you can just use your fingers to crumble it up. Sprinkle it on top of the caramel apples trying to get as much of the surface as you can. There will be some spaces left uncovered and that is okay.
Bake bars for 30 minutes or until the caramel starts firming up and the top is lightly golden. Allow bars to cool before cutting into bars and serving for at least an hour. Serve with reserved caramel drizzled on top.
Caramel Apple Pie Bars will stay fresh for 3 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KitchenAid Elite Bloggers. The opinions and text are all mine.