Saturday, November 21, 2015

Caramel Apple Crisp Bars

If there is one tool in my kitchen that I use frequently but am secretly petrified of, it would be my mandoline.  Nothing compares to the mandoline when it comes to thinly slicing, or cutting into matchsticks.  I probably use it at least every other week.  With that said, it is clearly the most frightening utensil ever.  The blades are incredibly sharp, and everyone I know who has ever used a mandoline has sliced off pieces of fingers at least once.  Once I lent my mandoline to Laura and she returned it coated with her blood.  That's a slight exaggeration - she washed it - but she really did cut her finger so badly that she resorted to showing it to our school nurse.

Clearly, as you have probably inferred by now, I used a mandoline to cut the apples for these caramel apple crisp bars, and sliced off a good hunk of my thumb.  I made these bars for a work party at the end of November, and while the scab is now totally gone, my thumb has a scar, and it's still tender to touch.  Possibly permanent finger damage by mandoline.  Thanks a lot, caramel apple crisp bars.

I guess I should probably get around to the bars.  Luckily my work friends said they were worth the pain I went through (even though some of them started calling them thumb bars and joking that my thumb skin was probably baked into them... I swear to you they were thumbless!).  The crust is sweet and soft and tastes of cinnamon, and gets a little caramelized when you bake it thanks to the brown sugar.  Then there are layers of super thin apples (thanks, mandoline!), and on top you pour a super quick homemade caramel sauce.  A bit more of the crust is sprinkled on top.  Voila!  A half hour in the oven brings you caramel apple crisp bars.

I personally thought they could have used more caramel flavor; I thought they were very apple-y but not so caramel-y.  But like I said, people really liked them.  Maybe I was just being snarky due to the thumb incident.  They certainly were pretty, and sweet.  Another option for Thanksgiving, perhaps?


caramel apple crisp bars
from Pinch of Yum
makes 12 large bars or 16 - 18 small bars

for the crust:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
for the filling:
4 small apples
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream or half and half
1/4 cup turbinado sugar


1) Make crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter and brown sugar with electric mixer until creamy.  Add the cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and flour.  The mixture should be crumbly.  Set aside one cup of the mixture, and press the rest into a 9 x 13 baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 12 minutes.

2) Make filling: quarter the apples and scoop out seeds and core.  Slice the apple quarters with a mandoline slicer to get ultra paper thin slices.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add brown sugar.  When sugar is incorporated the mixture is just about the start bubbling, add the cream and stir until a creamy sauce forms.  It should coat the back of a spoon.

3) Assemble the bars.  When the crust is done, arrange the apples in an even layer over the crust and pour the caramel over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining crust crumbles from step one.  Sprinkle with turbaned sugar.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes.  Remove from oven, lift out of pan using the edges of the parchment paper, and allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes.  Cut and serve.

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